Recently released on Netflix and originally aired on BBC One, “Bodyguard,” starring Richard Madden, is the perfect combination of thriller and action series. Though it may not be extremely realistic as a story, the characters bring realism, while the symmetry and overall captivating nature of the storytelling make up for any small plot holes. If the watcher can just sit back and suspend disbelief, “Bodyguard” is a fun ride with some good twists and turns.
The series almost begins with a bang as protagonist David Budd (Madden) talks a suicide bomber out of pressing the button while on the train to London. Hailed as a hero for this, Budd returns to London and is assigned to be the principal protection officer for Home Secretary Julia Montague. For a few episodes the show seems to take a boring turn as Budd and Montague start an affair, but then a bomb goes off, catastrophe ensues, and the show takes a new twist. As Budd and the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London’s Metropolitan Police Service try to uncover the identity of the terrorists, they uncover possible government and police corruption.
“Bodyguard” is engaging and intense without being stressful or over-the-top like so many other action-packed shows. After the opening scene with the bomber, the first episodes slow down a bit, but it serves as a nice windup to the heightened action that later occurs. The show strikes a balance so that the viewer is not exhausted at the end of the season due to nail-bitingly intense episodes. But it pulls the viewer in at the very beginning and peaks the curiosity just enough to keep you watching. Then the twists come and the audience is hooked.
The slower episodes also give a good set-up for Budd’s character. They show that he is a normal police officer struggling with some PTSD after serving in the Middle East, but very dutiful and focused on discovering the terrorists. He is not a Jason Bourne caliber officer who can’t be touched and has practically magical fighting skills. He has his demons, and he is a smart guy, but no genius. His realistic character and Madden’s engaging performance brings a good, but exaggerated, storyline to the next level to capture audiences.
Overall the momentum of the series rolls on and the show deftly shifts the viewer’s suspicions slowly from one character to another, and to another. Rarely can a show so sneakily shift the viewer’s suspicions and thoughts, and that is one of the strongest qualities that makes “Bodyguard” a good thriller. This kind of subtlety — and the way it creates excitement — is what really sets the show apart.
Any plot holes and unbelievability is made up with the nice symmetry and parallelism of the story. Beginning with a suicide bomber, the series ends with a suicide bomber. Characters are carefully woven in, but the viewer takes little notice of them at first. They are then carefully brought back in to provide continuity and parallelism. The unfolding of the storyline is very pleasing and the way it circles back to the beginning at the end shows some cleverness.
But the storytelling leaves the viewer unsatisfied.
The only let-down of the show was that it felt cut off prematurely. Because of the longer set-up and slower pace of the first episodes, the wrap up was rushed, and though the ending was certainly captivating, it also felt clumsy after the careful, subtle building of the plot and its twists. Six episodes felt just a little too short, so the last episode left the viewer breathless. Everything was nicely tied up and the ending had happy connotations, but the quick ending left me wanting more.