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The Tunnel: Sabotage on DVD

Sunday, 05 June 2016 23:00 Written by 

The Tunnel - Sabotage - out on DVD nowAward-winning hard-hitting drama The Tunnel, from the makers of Broadchurch, returns for a second series subtitled Sabotage. Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane resume their starring roles in this geopolitical thriller, first broadcast on Sky Atlantic, and now making its DVD debut. The pace is ramped up from the rather Scandinavian melancholy-feel of the first series, and there are some uncomfortable moments for the ruling elite in terms of the plot twists employed herein.

Described as a “tense, high octane thriller”, this time the investigative duo from opposite sides of the Channel have to first rid themselves of the demons left with them at the end of the initial series. Pragmatic, meticulous and newly-promoted Commander Elise Wasserman  (Poésy – Fleur Delacour in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” parts 1 and 2, Chloe in “In  Bruges”) and laconic DCI Karl  Roebuck (Dillane – Stannis Baratheon in Game  of  Thrones, Rupert Keel in Hunted) are reunited. They are assigned to investigate the case of a French couple abducted from the Eurotunnel, leaving behind their traumatised young daughter. As this story brews, a passenger plane carrying British and French nationals crashes into the Channel, killing everyone on board. The two strands begin to intertwine, leading to far bigger questions to address, and a genuine conspiracy to uncover.

They navigate their way through clues thrown up by a vast field of debris, forging connections as they go. But sinister and complicated forces are at play and in a terrifying game of brinksmanship, Karl and Elise will have to risk everything in the pursuit of justice. 

Certainly Karl is shown initially to still be recovering from the death of his son, in what had been a ten part epic. Here, the story is limited to eight instalments, and despite the story have the same number of points, it is all the better for the increase of pace.

The key plot point in the first episode will have many ‘9/11 Truthers’ nodding sagely as a proverbial cat is let out of the bag. The jet liner at the centre of the action is taken over by remote control – the frightening thing about this is that this technology has been around for over two decades, with little ever made of the fact. It is seen by many as the explanation as to why ‘hijackers’ with little flying experience and hardly any skills could navigate jets into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Fiction imitating reality? We shall never know for sure.

Another ‘sticky wicket’ is an almost-murmured sub-plot about protesting against fracking, explaining why doing so has become that important. More was originally going to be made of this plotline - a ‘Deleted Scene’ within the DVD extras demonstrates this (more of that later).

Angel Coulby as Laura Roebuck, Karl’s other half, is dealt a poor hand by the script, portraying her as being love-hate-love in terms of her relationship with who she shares a house with. She is, in equal parts, shown as incredibly weak and then ferociously strong, and it doesn’t quite wash that this is because of the trauma she had endured at the conclusion of the first series.

Watch out for Emilia Fox featuring in three episodes, cast very much against type as Vanessa Hamilton, a high value ‘fixer’ who you certainly wouldn’t trust to buy you a lottery ticket. This is a performance which will see you having to re-evaluate your opinion of her considerable acting strengths.

Special Features included in this DVD set are:

“The Making of The Tunnel: Sabotage” (10 mins) – Series creator Ben Richards explains in broad terms the origins of the plane crash idea, and how love leads characters to irrational decisions. The variety of nationalities represented in the cast – including French, Belgian and Dutch – is touched upon, as is how the quest for realism was followed by purchasing actual plane parts to make up the crash wreckage.

“Anatomy of a Plane Crash” (5 mins) – the common McGuffin of a passport washing up on a shore, and how a flight simulator was used, with specially filmed real footage being seen through the cockpit window being a cost saver in not needing to rely on post-filming CGI.

“The Evolution of Karl and Elise” (6 mins) – Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy’s character relationship is discussed in what can only be described as a superficial way. The strand notes there is no sexual tension, but rather a brother-and-sister liaison. With Elise falling in love for the first time on other shores, so to speak, the fact that this particular interaction in the series is without depth and not believable isn’t addressed – she’s the nearest thing Planet Earth has to a Vulcan, hence why her sort-of ‘falling in love’ just doesn’t gel.

Deleted Scenes (7 mins) – The notable scene is picking up on a fracking licence not being granted, the initial fight against it being mentioned briefly in what was broadcast, denoting success for the protestors. Given the current climate of the UK Government wanting to frack our soil and water into a poisonous unsalvageable soup, and the Scottish Government having now placed an indefinite moratorium on it, this could have been seen as a topical ‘hot potato’ for the series to be engaged with.

Behind The Scenes Picture Gallery (1 min) – lots of clapperboards and unguarded moments.

Picture Gallery (90 seconds) - official shots used for promotion of the series.

This eight part drama is also combined in a release of The Tunnel Series One & Two as a DVD Box Set.

All in all, much like what Hinterland has managed to pull off with joint Welsh and English language sensibilities, so The Tunnel: Sabotage once again manages to throw in a few English subtitles of French language dialogue for a level of authenticity which permeates the entire production. It’s difficult not to like the two stars, and both are all the more likable for their angst and quirks. No doubt there will be some who moan that they actually have to read what is being said in ‘foreign’ on-screen, but those types should stick to their soap operas and reality shows.

The dual language approach has definite merits, and demonstrates the larger geographical canvas which is being painted upon. It’s a gateway to productions which have been imported to the UK entirely in a different tongue, and for those who currently struggle with such, this is a great way to acclimatise to these different ways of telling fiction on UK TV. All in all, The Tunnel: Sabotage is well worth your investment of time, and you can probably get away with not having seen the first series before watching this one, such is how well-drawn the characters are. You’ll want to then go back to view the first series – but remember in that one, the pace is far more, shall we say, ‘measured’.

The Tunnel: Sabotage is out now from RLJ Entertainment’s Acorn label. The two DVD set has a running time of 381 minutes approx, a ‘15’ certificate, and a RRP of £24.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

The Tunnel Series One and Two is a four DVD set which has a running time of 889 minutes approx, a ‘15’ certificate, and a RRP of £39.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com