Questionable Tactics Mar Action-Packed 'Night Agent'

Yet another thriller about top-secret derring-do in the U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus comes to Netflix on Thursday.

This one is called “The Night Agent,” not to be confused with “The Night Manager.”

That was a 2016 limited series adapted from a John le Carré novel that was not really the same, but did involve espionage and spycraft.

In “The Night Manager,” the lead character was a night manager at posh hotels overseas.

In “The Night Agent,” the lead character -- Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso, pictured above) -- is an FBI agent who works the overnight shift in a windowless office in the basement of the White House.



There, he spends most of his time analyzing reports and then writing reports about them, all the while poised to answer a special emergency phone sitting on his desk that may ring suddenly to notify him of occasional urgent crises classified as “night actions.”

Most of his nights go pretty quietly, but in the premiere episode of “The Night Agent,” a call comes that forms the basis for the show’s storyline.

The caller is a young woman innocently staying with her aunt and uncle in suburban Washington who finds herself suddenly in the crosshairs of mysterious men in black who arrive at the house in the middle of the night and assassinate her relatives.

It turns out that unbeknownst to her, her aunt and uncle were involved in some pretty secret stuff working in an under-the-radar spy unit whose existence was known only to a small group of people at the White House.

In the tradition of countless TV shows and movies, the young woman somehow escapes this house of death.

Well, somebody has to, right? Otherwise, the show would end right there, with everybody dead.

Episode One of “The Night Agent” -- previewed earlier this week by the TV Blog -- had action and suspense to spare.

Although he spends most of his nights in mundane, sedentary pursuits, Agent Sutherland proves to be more resourceful than he seems when the chips are down.

He is not exactly Jason Bourne, but when he makes it a point to elude or even bring down a couple of bad guys, he commits himself to the task until it is over.

Still, aspects of his tactics and practices were puzzling. In Episode One, Peter is tasked with discreetly whisking the young woman off to a safe place where she can be debriefed by high-ranking FBI and White House personnel.

Along the way, they make a leisurely stop at his apartment to pick up a change of clothes. Peter’s lack of urgency was at odds with the dangerous situation they were both in.

In addition, he revealed bits and pieces about his role in top-secret activities at the White House to this young woman who was a complete stranger to him, although he had been ordered to keep his mouth shut while he was transporting her.

Upon arrival at a safe house, he did not bother to carefully check the interior for malicious miscreants. Neither did he make much of an effort to conceal his and her presence there by pulling down the shades. 

Instead, he roughly pulled a couple of curtains across some of the windows that were so sheer that he needn’t have bothered. 

He even appeared to park his black SUV on the street rather than try and make it less conspicuous in a driveway or garage.

The thing is, he (and we) had already learned that the bad guys seemed to know everything about him and the woman under his protection, including where they had been and where they were going. The least he could have done was prepare the house to seem unoccupied.

The subject matter of Episode One -- including an attempt to blow up a Washington Metro train at rush hour, the grisly murders of the aunt and uncle by the men in black, and various chases and close calls -- was decidedly dead serious.

But for some reason, while a woman in a Wisconsin suburb was being cruelly and fatally garrotted in her kitchen in the episode’s final sequence, her murder is accompanied by the upbeat sound of Patsy Cline singing “Back in Baby’s Arms.”

The use of this music seemed pointless and inexplicable, given the tone of the rest of the show. Perhaps the producers were hoping to attract an audience from the multitudes who are crazy about Patsy Cline.

“The Night Agent” starts streaming on Thursday (March 23) on Netflix.

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