If the image of the English spy is James Bond, in no time, when meeting the head of Slough House, Jackson Lamb, we give him credit because he is the opposite of everything we know about 007. He’s old, thick, out of shape and unsympathetic, would never conquer a woman. It doesn’t even seem to want to. A character tailored to the talent of Gary Oldman who is the star of the Apple TV Plus series Slow Horses.
Slow Horses is the adaptation of the first book in the series that brings the angry genius of Jackson Lamb, written by Mick Herron 12 years ago. At the time, it was even new to talk about intolerance, fake news and terrorist attacks, making the book a best seller. Today, with the themes being even common, what holds is the talent of an incredible cast in a well-tuned spy plot, a genre that was very successful in the 1990s and 1970s.
Slow Horses is a play on the English word, “Slough House”, an address considered a graveyard for members of the intelligence service who are no longer in the game but who cannot be fired. Only those who are incompetent, problematic or leaning are there. Jackson Lamb is the director, drinking during office hours and demanding that people “do nothing.” This works until Agent River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) is sentenced to an indefinite term on the spot. Young, with a big name and wanting to prove himself, River is Jackson’s nightmare incarnate, but uncontrollable.
We won’t go into details because those who like suspense will soon pick up spoilers. It is enough to know that Jackson is an old-timer agent, that is, not only is he brilliant, but he is faithful and even without liking “his slow horses”, they are “his” and, therefore, the whole team gets involved in a complicated action that it could cost the lives of thousands of people, with theirs in the middle.
Slow Horses is very reminiscent of John Le Carré‘s excellent work, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, whose last adaptation, in 2011, had the same Gary Oldman himself leading a sensational cast of British stars. He’s left, once again, with a sensational Kristin Scott Thomas shouldering him in the cynicism of frustrated, tired, and highly intelligent spies.
Of the young people, in addition to the great Jack Lowden, we have the talented Olivia Cooke, soon to be one of the stars of House of the Dragons, proving the potential of the new generations. There are eight books in total, it looks like a franchise… but who won’t like quality content?