23 November 2012 | wandereramor
Insert gay joke here
Inside Men is the kind of antihero drama that's become so trendy lately boiled down to its essentials in four hours of drama. Steve Mackinotsh gives a great performance as the central character, who doesn't so much transform from nebbish bank manager to near-sociopathic bank robber as reveal the ruthless criminal that was always hidden beneath the benign bourgeois facade -- and that might be beneath our benign bourgeois facades too.
Ashley Waters, Warren Brown and Nicola Walker also give great supporting performances, and what helps them out is a script that makes their characters every bit as interesting as Mackintosh's. These characters are the starring roles in their own lives, and we get enough of these lives (in particular a very real depiction of working-class British life) to be interested in them. Inside Men occasionally uses melodrama in place of backstory (Chris's mother springs to mind), but for the most part the time spent in these worlds is rewarding.
Some other narrative choices are less successful. The flash-forward structure, while striking at first, quickly becomes burdensome and removes a lot of narrative tension from the events in the past. In the last episode in particular the series seems to be unable to figure out what to do with the plot. And even though a lot about Inside Men is well-done, I always found myself wondering a bit what the point was. As I said above, this is a condensed version of a show like Breaking Bad, but condensation often takes out the flavour, and what we have is a narrative we've seen done better before.
It's perhaps unfair to compare Inside Men to all previous shows with this narrative trajectory, which include some of the best TV shows ever. It's good enough to stand on its own. But in the end it comes off as just a well-executed crime story. If that sounds up your alley, give this one a shot.