Monday 18 February 2019

Streaming on SBS - THE BUREAU (Eric Rochant) - Series Four

The Bureau, US DVD cover for series 1 & 2
The Bureau, a series created by Eric Rochant, knows how to do cliffhanger endings. Its conclusion to series four, currently streaming on SBS, may or may not be another. No need for details and thus spoiler alerts.

What the series has also done over forty sinuous episodes is give a picture of the life of modern day spying that is as graphic and, according to my spies (ho ho) as authentic as just about anything in the field whether literary or cinematic. 

Mark Pierce has already made some comments on the first three series which you can find if you click here. I wont go round those points again except to endorse Mark’s view about all three of the series he was writing about: “Frailty, there as everywhere, is the key to making the characters human. They are not meant to be good. Their methods are ambiguous, edgy, dodgy, as are their objectives. That is the basis of their charm. Their intention with the viewer is empathy rather than sympathy.”

Series four makes a determined effort to bring things right up to the moment. As usual, it does a forensic job on two fronts, two parallel stories. First there is Russian intelligence. Malotru/Debailly/Lefebvre (Mathieu Kassovitz) has washed up in Russia, home of Edward Snowden, and is eking out a living cooking in a food wagon. But both Russian and French intelligence won’t let go and we start a tale of cat and mouse, constantly uncertain as to where his loyalties will lie and whom he will eventually betray. Parallel to this is a the story of the nervous Syrian expert, the overweight, owl-like Jonas (played by an actor credited only as Artus, there’s a French tradition in itself). Jonas is trying to track down Frenchmen who have gone off to join ISIS and is forced to head for Syria where he regularly comes close to crapping himself as he is forced into battle conditions in order to track down his suspects. 

The scene where Jonas finally confronts his ISIS nemesis is worth the price of SBS on demand, a mini-cliffhanger of enormous imagination, brilliantly set up.

Meanwhile back in Russia, the French have planted Marina Loiseau (Sara Giraudeau) in a Russian institute devoted to hacking the world’s computers and developing ever more useful means of Artificial Intelligence. She is backed up by two whizkids back in Paris whose ability to hack and crack knows no bounds. Through them we get elaborate explanations of just what it is possible to do with computers, codes, the internet and all the dark arts associated with it. So cavalier has this become both in private and government circles that one of the protagonists goes off to a hackers’ conference in The Ukraine, a conference taking place in a giant convention centre.

Notwithstanding all this, the one other picture that emerges is the very same human frailty and the capacity of all intelligence services to exploit it.

Anne Azoulay
Henri Duflot (Jean-Pierre Darrousin), the affable chief of the service was killed off at the end of series three. He is replaced by JJA (Matthieu Amalric) as a spy who questions loyalty far more brutally than any other and who is prepared to sacrifice his agents for a greater cause. I suspect JJA will eventually meet a nasty fate. A further addition is Anne Azoulay as Liz Bernstein, an object of desire for the office males who, by series end, has already seduced aging roue/spy Raymond Sisteron (Jonathan Zaccaï).

My gosh its good…and impossible to stop watching.

More please….

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.