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‘The Night Manager’ review: John le Carré’s 1993 spy novel comes to AMC as thrilling miniseries

Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston in

Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston in John Le Carré's "The Night Manager," a six-week miniseries from AMC based on the 1993 novel. Credit: AMC / The Ink Factory / Des Willie

WHEN | WHERE Six-week miniseries premieres Tuesday night at 10 on AMC


WHAT IT’S ABOUT There’s a beautiful, mysterious woman. An uber-evil supervillain. And a dashing hero on a mission. It’s global — and it’s personal. Exotic locales, luxe cars, endless Champagne and, naturally, oodles of sex.

Everything a stylish spy saga needs.

Best-selling novelist John le Carré would know, after his own MI6 career, his ’60s breakthrough book, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” and his ’70s BBC triumph, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” But his 1993 tale, “The Night Manager,” comes to TV in a different time than the author’s famed Cold War tales — now encompassing the Middle East weapons trade, the mighty new international billionaire, even commanding women in positions of authority.

But it all comes down to le Carré’s classic character: one conflicted man. Played by Tom Hiddleston, a movie star (“Thor,” “I Saw the Light”) compressing his big-screen potency for small-screen tension, the army-trained title character has no trouble gliding from nocturnal hotel oversight to becoming “the second worst man in the world.” Enlisted as such by a tenacious lone-wolf spy boss (Olivia Colman, “Broadchurch”), his quarry will of course be Numero Uno — a global magnate played just as tightly by Hugh Laurie (“House”), the force ultimately responsible for a murder our man undertakes to avenge, mere collateral damage amid the day-to-day pursuit of obscene wealth.

Can he worm his way into the billionaire’s inner circle? Let the cat-and-mouse games begin.

MY SAY Le Carré, 84, pronounces himself pleased, in a gushy press-kit letter, with this production, which first aired on the BBC. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s got high-level performers, essaying smartly taut yet sexily languorous scripting (David Farr, “MI-5”), quite grippingly directed (Susanne Bier), in picturesque locales (Mallorca, Switzerland, Morocco). And, oh yes, it’s all produced by his sons Simon and Stephen Cornwell.

Nepotism pays. The real le Carré unreels here, with savvy updates (re-gendering the book’s male spy boss) strengthening his nail-biting storytelling and ever keen focus on the toxic bureaucracy behind even the most opulent intrigue.

BOTTOM LINE Spend six nights, get thrills free.

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