Crime Thriller TV & Movie Log: Americans, Purge, Plan, Blood

I was hoping to get to Crimefest but, sadly, responsibilities have kept me away. Which is a shame, because it all looks tremendously exciting. If you’re there, I hope you’re making the most of the panels, conventions and workshops. I’ll see you there next year.

UnknownHowever, if you’re sitting around the house this weekend wondering how to fill your hours, you could do worse than to start watching The Americans, which is on ITV at 10pm, Saturday night.

It’s has a terrific conceit. Check out the blurb, comrade:

In 1981, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) are undercover Soviet intelligence agents from the secretive Directorate S of the KGB sent to the U.S. 15 years ago to work deep cover in Washington, D.C.

Their assumed identities are a married couple who run a travel agency, and even their own children Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati) do not know their secret. Before coming to the U.S., they were instructed not to share their personal lives with each other. The Jennings become stuck with Timochev, a Soviet defector they had abducted to send back to the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, FBI Counter-Intelligence Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) has moved in across the street with his family. Philip and Elizabeth must figure out what to do with Timochev, who remains locked in the trunk of their car, while they contemplate whether or not Beeman’s arrival is a coincidence.

I’ve been looking forward to this coming to UK screens for a good while now. The reviews in the US have been tremendous — and the good news is, it’s been recommissioned for a second series.

The Americans was created by a former CIA man called Joe Weisberg, who, as a former agent, must run his scripts past the agency. It’s inspired by the so-called Illegals Program, when a network of deep-cover Russian agents were rounded up by the FBI in 2010. One pair of sleeper agents cohabited and even had children to maintain their cover in suburban New Jersey.

There are also some interesting crime thriller movie releases out this week that you may feel worthy of your patronage.

Blood is the kind of gritty thriller us Brits do rather well, and it’s got a top-notch cast. Paul Bettany proved he could do dark and conflicted in the movie version of Mellis and Scinto’s terrific play Gangster No. 1. In Blood he’s joined by Stephen Graham – Capone in Boardwalk Empire, of course – and Mark Strong, who’s appeared in any number of thrillers. Oh, and Brian Cox is in it, too. That’s a good cast by anybody’s standards.

Blood is the story of two policemen brothers who investigate a crime they themselves have committed.

In Everybody Has A Plan, Viggo Mortensen stars as a man, bored with his own life, who takes on his twin brother’s identity — and gets mixed up with his brother’s criminal friends. The film is  Argentinian – Mortensen spent his early childhood there and can speak fluent Argentinian Spanish. We like Mr Mortensen, don’t we, for his terrifically intense performances in Eastern Promises, The Road and A History of Violence. He’s also a musician, artist and photographer, and has  been known to immensely lovely hair.

One of those home-invasion movies, The Purge also has a really good idea at its core. In an America wracked by escalating crime, the government sanctions a night in which anybody can commit any crime. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey pay a couple who  let a stranger into their house – as you naturally would on an evening when psychopaths and killers roam the streets.

Oh, dear — people in masks. They always give me the shivers.

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