In this two-part mini-series aired on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery Theater over the past two weeks, Will Burton (David Tennant of “Broadchurch”, “Dr. Who”, and “Harry Potter” fame) is London’s top-ranked criminal defense barrister. Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo, 2014 Tony-award winner for “A Raisin in the Sun”), is equally brilliant but number two in trial victories. Both Will Burton and Maggie Gardner are at the top of their game, two intellects who are perfectly matched and relentlessly ambitious.
Burton believes “everyone deserves a defense,” even for the despicable murderous psychopath, Liam Foyle (fearsomely played by Toby Kebbell). After Foyle’s acquittal, Burton soon regrets his victory. Winning at all costs becomes tragedy.
Foyle too, is more than the cliché image of ignominious evil. He is a creepy bird lover who is handsome and deceptively charming to the vulnerable and lonely. The triple cat-and-mouse games (between the two lawyers, between Burton and Foyle, and between Gardner and Foyle) are riveting and suspenseful but some of the sequence of events revealed at the end are not carefully connected and leave unanswered questions. Nonetheless, “The Escape Artist” succeeds, despite the occasional lapses in logic, to mesmerize and terrorize.
“The Escape Artist” is a thriller in which the viewer is drawn to the story and wishes to escape it simultaneously! Brilliant performances and enough twists and turns to hold this viewer’s attention!
[NOT available online at the PBS website but only on Netflix.]