What are the makings of a great government conspiracy thriller? You’ve got to have sex, murder, action, ludicrous plot twists and some crazy good suspense, right? Well, every single element is here in Jed Mercurio’s Bodyguard (picked up by Netflix after becoming one of the BBC’s biggest hits in more than a decade) and as such it joins the ranks of 24 and Homeland when they were at their absolute peaks. This is some very exciting and addictive television.
The impossibly dreamy (really) Richard Madden stars as David Budd, an army vet and cop who’s riddled with PTSD from tours in Afghanistan that he refuses to receive treatment for, and who now works as head of security detail to a cabinet minister in the UK government. Keeley Hawes plays Julia Montague, the Home Secretary and conservative MP that he’s charged with protecting after thwarting a terrorist attack on a train to London (a highly intense, suspenseful sequence that opens the first 25 minutes of the show at the highest possible anxiety level). Even though David has frequent PTS episodes and his marriage is in shambles, he’s kind of a superhero bodyguard, at one point driving a car backwards through the streets of London directly into incoming sniper fire so he can go after the shooter himself. No wonder Julia can’t resist him (also, like I said, he’s played by a smoldering, blue-eyed Scot for whom this entire series works as an audition to be the next James Bond- seriously people, look no further).
Their steamy affair takes on new weight as an intricate government conspiracy unfolds to target Julia for her political views and ambitions, but who’s really after her and why? I don’t want to give away any spoilers (this show is only six episodes and the plot twists are abundant), but let’s just say if anything happens to this bodyguard’s principal (and lover) he’s going to go Dirty Harry on your ass to find out what’s going on, rules and PTSD be damned. The action scenes are fantastic in this series, expertly directed and thrilling in every moment, and while plausibility may take a bit of a hit in certain spaces, it’s so entertaining and gripping that I never cared a whit if something was realistic or not.
This was obviously conceived as a complete story that ends where it’s supposed to and reveals all the answers in satisfying fashion, but Madden is so charismatic and has such a good screen presence that it’s quite easy to imagine another season with a new conspiracy for him to unravel, new threats to take down, etc. That’s because David Budd, (unlike say Homeland’s Carrie Mathison), is actually good at what he does despite his mental health issues, and though his fitness for duty is understandably disputed, believe me, you’d want this guy protecting you. It’s a total star-making performance and the best kind of roller coaster ride of a season.