I must admit to liking James Nesbitt hugely. Not in that way you understand but in a “hey respect, dude” kind of way. Over the years he’s proved to be one of the UK’s most versatile actors. In every role I’ve seen him in he’s been believable... which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is rather an essential quality in an actor. The James Nesbitt persona doesn’t ever get in the way of whatever part he happens to be playing at the time.
This is no mean feat especially when, over the years, his playing of so many cheeky-chappie, quip-a-minute characters has written the James Nesbitt persona large all over the nation’s psyche.
Recently though he’s been developing a much harder edge – and I’m not just referring to the brutally chopped precipice of his lip brush. Jekyll saw him delving into Jack Nicholson territory with gusto – staring eyes, sharp teeth and “daddy’s home” vocalizations. His current outing as Murphy though sees him exploring something a lot darker and far more real... Jekyll’s appetites were too fantastic and too over-stretched to be truly scary. But Murphy is up against very commonplace desires that are no less damaging or less repulsive for all their regrettable regularity in our society. People smuggling, prostitution, rape, drugs... it’s a world we see portrayed quite often on our TV screens either through police dramas or documentaries... but Murphy’s Law has managed to reclaim the shock element of such activities. That’s pretty good going in an age of desensitizing video games and shlock-horror flicks for the under 12’s.
Murphy is a dour, insular, dangerously frenetic character with a tache like a Mexican bandido and Nesbitt walks a tightrope over the chasm of caricature with true grace and true grit. He hijacks the screen and carries the whole drama forward with a presence that commands our undivided attention. Nesbitt is at full stretch for the entire duration and doesn’t even break a sweat. It’s impressive to watch. I’m totally hooked.
Here’s hoping that Murphy’s tache scimitar will make a quick return to our tellies very soon.... and not just because I happen to possess one of my own...