The premise behind Hard Sun is that the authorities are keeping a colossal secret from everyone else: the world is going to end in five years’ time! Anyone who learns this secret and tries to share it with the wider public must be silenced.
Neil Cross, the creator of Luther, has devised this conspiracy thriller, taking inspiration from David Bowie’s “Five Years” – unsurprisingly, the song is used as the theme music. Five years also used to be the average length of a TV series. which suggests that Cross and the BBC hope for a lot more mileage from this drama than the initial six-part opener.
To begin with, we follow London detectives Charlie Hicks and Elaine Renko, played by Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn. They already have secrets of their own. He is a corrupt DCI and she, for some reason as yet unknown, was stabbed by her son eight months earlier – after which the young man set fire to her flat. Now, as the two cops are looking into the death of a hacker who fell from a fifteenth story window, a flash drive comes into their possession. On it, the whole appalling story is laid bare: an ecological crisis will cause huge international chaos and then the world will burn up!
Cross has produced a finely constructed script; each scene building on the one before, keeping viewers hooked; very much the screen equivalent of a page turner.
A big question posed towards the end of the first instalment by a member of the security services. “What good does it do anybody to know this information?” she asks Charlie. A deal is reached between Hicks and Renko and MI5. The spooks will stop trying to bump off the two police officers, but they in turn will stop leaking apocalyptic revelations to the media – and join in the deception that it has all been a hoax. Unfortunately, as Charlie points out to Elaine, there is going to be a section of society who will continue to believe that the doomsday scenario is accurate. Conspiracy theorists, religious zealots and various unbalanced types could be sent over the edge, triggered them to commit homicidal crimes they might not otherwise have done. Renko was originally partnered with Hicks because he was suspected of corruption and she was meant to nail him in return for her psychopathic son being kept out of jail! Does she keep to that agreement or does looming Armageddon change everything.
The two leads carry the drama well. Sturgess adds a new dimension to the tough talking, Regan-esque London cop begun by John Thaw in The Sweeney, while Deyn brings a powerful physicality to the role of Renko, invariably able to bounce back whenever she’s knocked down – quite literally much of the time, as she tends to get thumped a lot.
Hard Sun: it’s the end of the world as they know it