Netflix‘s original mini-series Criminal: United Kingdom follows a small team of police detectives as they attempt to solve three separate and intriguing cases. With phenomenal performances and shocking twists, here’s our review.
Whilst not an anthology series, each of Criminal‘s three episodes focus on a different criminal event, covering such topics as sexual assault, murder and the human trafficking of refugees. Whilst these topics are not for everyone they are certainly handled with care by the writing, which is expertly structured and beautifully paced.
This is also helped by having a strong core cast and fantastic guest actors, including David Tennant as a well-spoken doctor, and Hayley Atwell, as a loud-mouth murder suspect. The team of detectives are also well personified, and yet are not the central focus in any of the stories.
Perhaps one of the strongest aspects of this crime drama is that it takes place entirely on one floor of a police station. The vast majority of the show’s two-hour running length occurs within a bland, featureless interrogation room.
This adds feelings of both simplicity and claustrophobia, and makes a distinct change from the action packed shoot-outs and car chases that have flooded the genre. This setting also allows for some inventive and striking cinematography as other members of the investigative team watch the interrogations from the other side of a two-way mirror, lit by violent red neon lights.
Ultimately Criminal refocuses a series of moral quandaries within the criminal sphere, and poses some thought-provoking questions. Would you risk your own safety to rescue others? Would you kill to protect those you love? Watching Criminal makes you realise that not every ‘criminal’ is evil and sometimes they are.
Whilst the main characters themselves may not be fleshed out enough to grow wholly attached to, a genuine effort is made to make some distinct and interesting enough to peak your interest. Although really it is the guest stars that steal the show, particularly Tennant, who delivers a chilling performance as his cold and manipulative character, Dr. Fallon; who is suspected of abusing and murdering his teenage step-daughter.
Filled with a number of twists and turns, Criminal is gripping and intense drama in bitesize form, which constantly keeps you engaged and your mind racing to stitch the information together. Compelling, thought-provoking and sometimes horrifying; Criminal is excellently crafted crime drama which makes bold and brave moves with its storytelling and production, at a time when the like are being mass produced, and stands out on its own.