‘BODYGUARD’ is a BBC mini-series that is totally different from the 1992 Kevin Costner with the same title. This is a six-episode British thriller starring Richard Madden (Prince Kit in “Cinderella”) in the title role, Sgt. David Budd, a Scottish veteran of the war in Afghanistan still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is now working with London’s police service.
The series starts with him on board a train in London where he notices the unusual behavior of a man who took so long inside the restroom.
When he opens the restroom, he sees a jihadist Muslim woman inside with a bomb tied around her body. He is able to convince the woman not to press the button that will set off the bomb and, with the terrorists arrested, he is able to save all the passengers in the train.
He is then promoted and assigned to be the personal bodyguard of the Home Secretary, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), whose political views he doesn’t favor. She continues to support the wars in the Middle East and she has a proposal that will infringe civil liberties, which David opposes.
She is separated from her politician husband, Roger Penhaligon (Nicholas Gleaves), who thinks she wants to be the next Prime Minister. David is also separated from his wife, Vicky (Sophie Rundle), but he’s hoping they’d reconcile for the sake of their two kids, so he is crushed when he learns that she’s already seeing someone else. Things get worse when terrorists try to blow up the school of David’s kids, but this was foiled by the cops, so his family has to be transferred to a safehouse for their own safety. Julia’s life is then threatened by a sniper from the rooftop of a building who shoots at her car, killing her driver.
David is able to maneuver the car to safety then hunts down the sniper who turns out to be an old friend of his in the army. Things get quite complicated as it becomes obvious that there’s a mole who’s leaking information about Julia to whoever wants her dead.
Julia becomes very close to David and soon, they’re having a secret and forbidden relationship. While delivering a speech in a college campus, there’s another bomb attack on Julia and the blast also hit David and killed another law enforcer.
David is so distraught with what happened he tries to shoot himself but it turns out someone else tampered with his gun and has replaced its bullets with blanks. It soon becomes apparent that there is a deadly conspiracy involving several people in high places and a powerful crime lord.
David is considered a suspect and dismissed from service, but he conducts his own investigation, putting his own life in great danger. The crime lord abducts him, knocks him out, and when he wakes up, a vest filled with bombs is wrapped around him to make it appear that he’s a suicide bomber. This is the show’s most intense climax.
It’s revealed that David was assigned to Julia as they think he is the perfect fall guy, but it turns out he’s clever enough to escape from the bad guys and prove his innocence. The show’s script is generally well written but some of the twists and turns in the plotting to surprise the audience appear to us as too manipulative and requires so much suspension of disbelief.
The one most difficult to accept is that the female suicide bomber that David rescued on the train turns out to be the most evil and scheming of all his adversaries. She’s supposed to be in custody of the cops, but how come she’s still so powerful and manipulate things?
The show has a very neat and happy ending, with David going to a health therapist for treatment of his PTSD and with him reconciling with his wife. It appears forced but, what the heck, David deserves a happy ending after all the heroics he showed throughout the show.
What’s nice about the series is that it gets to make a dark but valid comment on many issues, like the need for government to monitor private information of ordinary people to counter terrorism and why people are opposing it. The show also succeeds in sustaining nervous tension effectively to make it an engrossing thriller.
Richard Madden is excellent in the lead role, having a full understanding of his character’s psychology, making him very relatable and eliciting empathy from us viewers. His acting in the climactic bomb scenes is absolutely gripping and heartbreaking as he tries to convince everyone of his innocence. He won the Golden Globe best actor in drama for his acting and he deserves it.
The action and the suspense are both well mounted. Madden gets great support from Hawes as the embattled Julia who gives enough fine nuances in her performance as the tough but vulnerable, and ultimately, ill-fated government official.