Well, that was silly. Yet another "creative" version of Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. Not even the presence of the lovely Rupert Penry-Jones could save it from idiocy as fleetingly familiar moments morphed into something quite different and the woman who has been an obligatory part of the action since the Robert Donat movie assumed more roles than a shape-shifter.
I recall a fourteen-year-old Foundation pupil who had sat silent as I read the book with his class - actually, I read it to the class as they sat with the books in front of them - telling me: "Miss, that was the best book I ever read!" And yet each adaptation I've seen takes snippets of the original and stitches them together into a barely comprehensible and totally uninvolving whole. I dream of Buchan's story, complete with the Bald Archeologist and the Spectacled Roadman and the Literary Innkeeper, presented as a serial over ten weeks, each chapter having an episode to itself and ending on a cliffhanger, with the wonderfully tense drama of the London meeting followed by the incongruous confrontation in the seaside villa forming the final two episodes. No women, no love interest, no submarines. Just a rattling good yarn.
I wouldn't even allow them to take out some of the worst linguistic excesses in the opening two chapters in the interests of political correctness - think Merchant of Venice and leave it all. It'd work. But I bet it'll just have to stay in my head - and Buchan's book.