Kidnap and Ransom Series 2 Episode 1 Review

KIDNAP AND RANSOM: Thursday 23rd February, ITV, 9pm

The second instalment of this thriller series starring a smooth Trevor Eve as British hostage negotiator Dominic King overcomes the biggest, baddest, world-widest threat to modern crime telly: technology.

Usually, the lazy use of Google searches and Facebook trawls in a darkened office to track down malevolent terrorist-spy-assassins (invariably with conveniently open profiles) in slick police dramas evokes the desire in most viewers to take up hammers Luddite-style, and smash up their televisions, swiftly followed by the modern world’s answer to mechanised looms: the COMPUTER.

Nothing could be less thrilling than a muscular crime-fighter extraordinaire rolling up his sleeves, loading his gun, and logging in. But Kidnap and Ransom mixes violence, drama and suspense with a sensitive and measured use of technology to create a wholly realistic and entrancing plot. The silvery and vulpine King powers through Kashmir – where he is negotiating the release of a kidnapped British Indian family – taking calls on his iPhone from the kidnappers.

His assistant uses a social network called ‘Facetrack’ (something like that could really take off…) to explore the background of both hostages and captors, who get away with the family’s son and frantically hijack a tourist bus. Once inside the bus, kidnapper Anwar (played by a suitably manic Madhur Mittal) watches Al Jazeera broadcasts of the crisis on his (noticeably pink) smartphone.

Some of the dialogue is a little clunky, giving the first episode a very mild whiff of cheese. Lines like “I know you want to shoot them all because that’s what you do in Kashmirâ€? are at best patronising, at worst the trigger of an international diplomatic crisis – not what you’d expect a hostage negotiator supremo to say to the Indian authorities.

But after a generally well-received first series, the initial episode of this three-parter does not disappoint. There is an atmospheric contrast of dusty, vibrant Kashmir with the cold marble of cavernous Whitehall rooms where it seems all of King’s stiff-lipped ex-wives and lovers (Natasha Little and Helen Baxendale) work together at the Foreign Office trying to ease the crisis, shooting each other icy glares.

This absorbing juxtaposition works effortlessly alongside the story’s mounting suspense, when the Indian police and special forces arrive, and the gaudy, beleaguered tourist bus is stalked by snipers on all sides. Head-scarved gap year kids, a gratuitous sexy young couple and moaning middle-aged tourists alike are forced up against the windows as a human shield. The first episode leaves them and us on an expertly devised cliff-hanger.