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BBC and Hulu Come Together for 'Hard Sun'
March 7, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

The new thriller Hard Sun plays mix-and-match with two notions TV has tackled often: odd-couple cops and the end of the world.

Hard Sun, a BBC/Hulu co-production that premieres Wednesday on the streaming service, takes its title from a computer program that reveals the world will end in five years.

High-level government officials in Britain, where Hard Sun is set, have seen the Hard Sun program. They want to keep it from everyone else because, as high-level official Grace Morrigan (Nikki Amuka-Bird, below) explains, what good would it do to tell them? It would just plunge everything into chaos.

Enter two cops sent out to wrap up what seems like a routine if grisly suicide. A man apparently has jumped from a 15th-floor balcony and his mangled corpse is impaled on the branches of a tree.

The two cops are Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess, top) and Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn, top). They’ve been partners for about 15 minutes and they don’t like each other.

They’re too good at their jobs, though, not to notice incongruities about this apparent suicide. They follow their instincts, especially after Morrigan orders them to stand down, and soon they’re looking at the top-top-top-top-secret flash drive with a copy of the Hard Sun program.

This makes them persons of great interest to MI5, the British security agency, which has been instructed to plug potential Hard Sun leaks by any means necessary.

The subsequent cat-and-mouse game will constitute the central running thread of the show, which wisely sets itself up as a character drama rather than a sci-fi exploration of why things will be wrapping up in five years. It’s enough at the start to figure that presumably the sun is involved.

The character portraits focus on Hicks and Renko, who have each researched the other and found much to be concerned about.

Hicks likes to enrich his life and the lives of his wife Simone (Lorraine Burroughs) and their adorable daughter by raising money with extra-curricular gigs like armed robbery.

Also, the reason he needs a new partner is that his last one, Alex Butler, suddenly died. Renko isn’t at all sure Butler didn’t find out something Hicks didn’t want him to know.

Renko herself was a teenage mother and thus now has a teenage son of her own. Their circumstances did not lead them to bond closely, and Hicks suspects there may be a backstory there, which in turn could be tied to Renko’s other personal problems. She is, as they say, damaged, meaning she too has dark secrets.

Their mutual distrust, tucked under a veil of professional courtesy, might just remain indefinitely awkward if it weren’t for this dangerous piece of information that they alone now share.

There’s nothing like having a near-exclusive scoop on the apocalypse to push personal distaste off the top of your priority list.

Overall, Hard Sun is an ambitious production, with cinematic visuals and two familiar and fearful premises: that apocalypse could happen and that yes, Virginia, your government is hiding big secrets.

Those are intense notions, and for Hard Sun to work, Hicks and Renko must come across as powerful enough to confront them. Like others before, they’re ordinary, flawed people who by random chance have become the world’s last best hope to learn the truth.  

They must remain ordinary, yet at the same time convey an extraordinary strength of will and defiance. Based on early episodes, that could be a slow burn, which is dramatically valid but means it could take longer to get viewers fully engaged in the story.

Hard Sun can tell a hard story. It can’t be a hard watch.

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Tried to watch this on BBC. Gave up.
Abrasive characters, with--as mentioned above-- mutual distaste dominate early story. I found no "hook" to draw me in. World will end. Why spend so much time with people you dislike?
Perhaps it gets better... I didn't spend the time.
Mar 7, 2018   |  Reply
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