Tin Star, episode one, review – Tim Roth shines in this stylish thriller
Homecoming Hollywood hero Tim Roth was almost unrecognisable last year as serial killer John Christie in BBC One’s Rillington Place. Now he has removed the bald cap and bifocals – and even used his own London accent – for Tin Star (Sky Atlantic).
Here Roth was on the other side of the law as police chief Jim Worth. This British detective and recovering alcoholic had rather randomly relocated to the Canadian Rockies to take up a post as a small-town sheriff.
The mountains made a breathtaking backdrop as we watched Worth adjusting to life in a quaint community where most of the crime was committed by beery ranchers or hungry bears. So far, so twee – until an oil conglomerate built a controversial refinery nearby. When the local doctor committed suicide, Jim suspected foul play. The oil firm’s spin doctor Elizabeth Bradshaw (Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, relishing her femme fatale role) and head of security Gagnon (Christopher Heyerdahl) started to take on a sinister hue.
The simmering plot boiled over when a member of Worth’s family was murdered – a scene so shocking, we were shown it twice for full effect. Cue Jim’s demons being unleashed on a blood-splattered revenge rampage.
Cinematically shot and twangingly soundtracked, Tin Star was a noirish thriller. Its backwoods setting and eccentric townsfolk would have rung bells for Fargo fans, while Roth was quietly charismatic. The script was gratuitously foul-mouthed, though. The father in me flinched when Worth repeatedly swore in front of his children.
Sky has splashed lots of cash on these international co-productions but have a modest hit rate. The Last Panthers and Penny Dreadful worked but Fortitude, Guerrilla and recent effort Riviera flopped. They’re over-hyped, overlong (Tin Star is another 10-parter) and ratings tail off rapidly. Can Tin Star fulfil the promise of this intriguing opener or will it go the same way as its stablemates?