Manhunt – ITV Mini-series – Episode 1 Impressions

Methodically Paced & Factually Gripping

Based on the memoirs of former London Metropolitan police detective Colin Sutton, Manhunt is a methodically paced, absorbing three-part drama based on a prolific series of murders between 2002-2004. Unlike the more dramatic or action-packed police procedurals of late, Manhunt feels a lot more realistically depicted, thanks in part to the way the show uncovers evidence and key moments in the case. This cold stance toward showcasing the facts may hit a little close to the bone for those involved but for everyone else, Manhunt is an absorbing piece of drama.

The story begins moments after the body of 22-year-old French national Amelie is found dead in Twickenham Green. After being assigned the lead role in the case, Manhunt follows the investigation through the eyes of Colin Sutton as he juggles various aspects of the investigation including liaising with different teams and trying to piece together what happened. Between media appearances, doubtful colleagues and the ever-vigilant eyes of the public, Manhunt is surprisingly gripping and keeps things moving along at a decent pace.

The fact-based manner in which this series unravels, at least in the first episode, is something I wish more crime dramas would embrace. Police work is incredibly hard and especially in this country, it’s a really tough, demanding career. With this in mind, I can only imagine how difficult being a detective must be, especially with little evidence and barely any leads to go by. This feeling of helplessness is reflected by the sheer relentlessness of the drama, as Colin tries to grapple his personal and professional life while the case weighs heavily over him. It really helps us empathise with his character too with thin bursts of charisma and humour really helping to add an extra dimension to his persona. Martin Clunes has done a great job bringing the detective to life here although the supporting cast, so far at least, don’t really stand out.

From Killing Eve to Bodyguard, we’ve seen a whole host of crime thrillers on TV recently that have made the most of interesting camera angles and stylish cinematography. Manhunt’s decision to shoot its scenes with relatively straight forward shots and camera movements is actually pretty refreshing. It works really well here too, keeping the focus squarely on the investigation without adding fancy rotating shots or long takes for the sake of stylishness. 

With the second episode airing tonight on ITV at 9pm, we aren’t going to have to wait for long to see the second act of this police procedural play out. Those familiar with the story may be turned away from the slight dramatization of key events but for everyone else, Manhunt is a surprisingly solid show with a good premise and  straight forward presentation. It may not be the most stylish or memorable drama out there, but what it does, it does very well indeed making for an enthralling, gripping watch throughout.


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