Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Fixer: Peter Mullan Pulls the Strings
Mercer has more buttons to push than an accordion. That makes him the perfect
assassin for a shadowy, master manipulator on indefinite “leave” from the
police force. Of course, he is also good at killing people. You could ask his
aunt and uncle, but Mercer whacked them. Rest assured, he had good reason, or
he couldn’t be the [anti-]hero of Ben Richards’ The Fixer,
premieres this Monday on KCET in Los Angeles.
was trained by the British Special Forces. Unlike the French, you would go feel
comfortable going to war knowing they had your back. Unfortunately, while
Mercer was away, his little sister was sexually abused by the orphans’
guardians, their now very late aunt and uncle. Clearly, Mercer was disappointed
by their behavior. However, his hotheaded nature makes him an attractive
recruit for Lenny Douglas. Apparently acting with the secret sanction of high
ranking police authorities, Douglas runs a de facto hit squad for organized
crime figures too powerful for traditional law enforcement to handle.
least, that is how Douglas presents the gig to Mercer. The longer the suddenly rehabilitated
ex-con works with his new puppet master, the more he comes to distrust him.
Nevertheless, he sticks with it, so he can look after his troubled single-mother
sister. He also is attracted to Rose Chamberlain, a former copper who now
serves as Douglas’s designated seductress. Once again, Mercer finds himself
rooming with his former cellmate, Calum McKenzie, who will provide “logistical”
support, like breaking-and-entering and general scrounging. Their first targets
will fall pretty easily in the first episode. The question will be whether
Mercer can accept such a Faustian bargain.
stakes will rise considerably in the second episode when Douglas tries to play
kingmaker during a succession battle for control of London’s leading crime
family. Things will get complicated when McKenzie accidentally kills Douglas’s
preferred choice, a vile entitled little racist gangster brat. Matters are
ostensibly more clear cut in the third episode (perhaps the best of series one)
when Douglas turns the team loose on an Albanian gangster looking to expand
into British territory, but his methods continue to trouble Mercer.
really starts to doubt Douglas in episodes four and five, when his targets
reveal sensitive information that rock him back on his heels. It is
particularly awkward learning Patrick Finch was his predecessor, because he is
Mercer’s target and he has become a raging psychotic. Thus, it is rather
inevitable things will come to a head between Mercer and Douglas in the
conclusion of series one.
Mercer, Andrew Buchan is refreshingly manly and pretty darned hardnosed. Mercer
is worlds away from his best-known role, playing the father of the young murder
victim in the original Broadchurch,
but he carries it off well. Nevertheless, the real reason to watch The Fixer is to enjoy the great Peter
Mullan sneering and scheming his way through each episode as Douglas. He is
just a complete bastard, in the most entertaining way possible. Jody Latham
arguably makes McKenzie, the goofball stoner, seem less annoying over time,
which is certainly something, while Tamzin Outhwaite’s Chamberlain holds her
own against Buchan and Mullan during some surprisingly harsh verbal sparring
The off-the-books morally-conflicted hitman is
not a staggeringly new concept, but it is a durable one. In this case, the cast
really kicks it up a notch, especially Mullan, who truly is one of the best in
the business. His arrogant sarcasm is television gold. Recommended for fans of darker,
attitude-heavy British crime dramas, The
Fixer starts its broadcast run this coming Monday (3/28) on KCET.
Labels: KCET, Peter Mullan