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London, summertime, and a serial murderer is at large, killing his victims in brutal ways and leaving a silver spoon in the mouths as his calling card. What links the victims? Detective Superintendent Red Metcalfe (Ken Stott) assembles a top team and attempts to halt the bloodshed as he simultaneously tries to keep the ghosts in his past from submerging his investigation.
Directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and co-adapted to screenplay by Boris Starling (from his own novel) and Lizzie Mickery, Messiah is formed in two parts. Firstly is The First Killings, then The Reckoning. Originally shown over two nights on BBC in 2001, Starling's source proves to be excellently unnerving stuff that translates very well to the screen. The comparisons with David Fincher's Se7en were inevitable, though a touch lazy and unfair given the different worlds they operate in, both cinematically as budgets, and as setting and protagonists portrayals.
Lawrence's film has so much going for it to make it an essential viewing for fans of serial killer based thrillers. It has all the key elements in place. The murders are most distressing, with us often having to witness the aftermath of the crimes and thus having to fill in the blanks (urgh). The mystery element is constantly strong, with the makers slowly dripping in clues as to the killer's motives, and then for the second half it becomes a race against time before the genuinely surprising reveal and denouement. The acting is first rate, with Stott (playing an interesting and unique hero), Jamie Draven and Michelle Forbes particularly impressive in tricky roles.
The investigative group dynamic is a troubled one, which adds spice to the investigation. Metcalfe has a stormy past that keeps rearing its head to affect his detecting, while his marriage to deaf Susan (Forbes) is coming increasingly under pressure, more so the deeper he gets into the case. DI Duncan Warren (Neil Dudgeon) has a gambling problem, at war with his ex-wife and fighting a losing battle to get quality time with his estranged son, and young pups D.S. Clifton (Draven) and D.S. Beauchamp (Frances Grey) have taken an inappropriate liking to each other. Into the mix is the gutter press and Art Malik's Boss Emerson is stomping around like a bear with a sore head.
Messiah is not without faults, one of the decisions taken by the killer just beggars belief, while there is one leap of faith (hrr hrr hrr) required to buy into the meticulous aspect of said killer's ultimate goal. But this is great skin itching stuff, a prestigious production that shows the better side of the BBC as Grand Guignol and British drama fuse together handsomely. 9/10
Like another reviewer we bought this DVD without having seen it or knowing a great deal about it other than the reviews on Amazon. Yes, both 1 and 2 are very good although if you are unduly bothered by plot flaws there appear to be a fair few of them. I won't give the details as it is impossible without ruining it for those who have not seen it but if you think about the plot there are things that are quite unrealistic. Some of the twists have clearly been invented just for the sake of a twist and the overall logic of Messiah 2 is a bit strained to say the least. Otherwise I'd have given it 5 stars. My only real gripe is how does a story split into two episodes of just over an hour qualify as a series? All five Messiahs together, yes, that would qualify but just one? Why do we accept such obvious marketing propaganda? Messiah 1 isn't a series, it is a film adaptation of a good book that would run for about 2hrs 40 mins if it wasn't split into two episodes. Messiah 2 is the same.
This series had achieved considerable fame during its regular telecast, and the reasons are easy to understand after watching this set of twin DVD-s. Series 1 (which was the original novel-based made-for-TV film) is tighter and packs more punch, but the 2nd series is not bad at all. The acting is superb all around, and the technical aspects are as per BBC-s usual high standard. My few complaints (resulting in knocking a star off from the rating) would be regarding the lack of extras in the 2nd series, and the predictability regarding the murderer's identity, again in the 2nd series. Nevertheless, although these films are not of the level of Prime Suspect - Complete Collection  [DVD], they are enjoyable (not in a sadistic manner, but from the viewer's point of view who wishes to see a story properly being told) and compact. Recommended.
BBC's answer to Prime Suspect (it took some time coming!) does not disappoint. Ken Stott's abrasive Red Metcalfe is superbly supported by a gritty and plausible cast (although Edward Woodward disappoints - he seems to think he's in an Omen movie or reliving the Wicker Man). The plot has enough twists, turns and surprises to prove enormously engaging right up to and including the finale (which is mercifully and realistically brief). If watching with someone else, you'll be forever swapping theories and observations. The extras on the DVD make this a no-brainer purchase, particularly at this ludicrously low price. Frightening, gripping, disturbing (surprised it's a 15, not an 18) and rewatchable at least three times. One word of advice though - resist the temptation to watch both episodes in a single sitting. Just like Prime Suspect, the climax of the first part is so compelling and the information and clues come so thick and fast that you'll enjoy the experience much more if you spread it over two evenings. Buy this classic immediately!
I first watched Messiah many years ago and fancied a re-run. I didnt have series 2 on DVD so ordered this as it has 1 and 2 included ( i previously had just series 1 but dont mind that its duplicated). This is such a brilliant series. If you like a good crime story - A bit gory and quite tense then this is for you. For the time it was released it was quite innovative. The characters are well formed and brilliantly acted and always with a twist at the end. If you have never seen Messiah then start at series one with Ken Stott and order 5 as well with Marc Warren....you will be hooked. Its BBC drama at its best.
I can remember seeing Messiah series 2 on the television when it first appeared and thinking what a fantastic piece of television drama it was and wondering why the hell I'd missed the first series and how I could somehow get to see it. When I saw Messiah series 1 and 2 on offer from Amazon, I snapped it up and couldn't wait to get it onto my DVD player. when it arrived I put it on and ended up watching "Messiah series 1" in one sitting and was blown away by it. It was everything I had expected and more. Its a prime example of what British television can be when it pulls the stops out. Ranks alongside "Tinker, Tailor..." and "The Edge of Darkness" As with all follow ups "Messiah series 2" had a hard act to follow and isn't quite as good but is still worth every penny of the price I paid and will remain on my shelves a long time after all my other DVDs have been taken away and car booted.
Anyone who missed this when it was shown on tv must buy this.I've seen many tv dramas over the years but this ranks as the best.Ken Stott acting is first rate, and the story line rattles along and keeps cranking up the tension keeping you glued to the screen. I can't give to much plot away but its a case of "Well i never saw that coming".....!There is a Messiah 5, But none of the original cast are in it sadly.