Turks & Caicos Review: Undercover Brits And Yanks Toe To Toe In The Tropics

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A sequel to British director David Hare’s 2011 BBC espionage outing Page Eight, Turks & Caicos takes on multinational robber barons in collusion with governments – up to a certain point. As in primarily pointing fingers at horrendous CIA machinations, while giving indignant MI5 operatives in the UK primarily a pass. Though as it stands at this point in time when most big budget movie fare is instead about stuff in the marketplace rather than life itself – and how to giddily acquire even more of it – any moral thriller with even a shred of exterior box thought inquiry, counts as a breath of fresh air on big or small screens.

The elusively taunting tale playing out in the UK’s territorial tourist Caribbean mecca of the title, centers on a thieves’ den of sinister capitalist slackers sipping tropical cocktails while plotting further takeovers around the planet. And neutralizing so to speak, anyone getting in their way. The island likewise serves conveniently as a secret reservoir offshore account mecca, for stashing away all sorts of ill gotten multinational gain.

Tossed into the smug when not subversive mix, is Christopher Walken who may or may not be a CIA operative. While chasing after Bill Nighy who may or may not be a rogue MI5 – an Edward Snowden sort of symbolic figure devastated by the discovery of US secret torture prisons around the planet. Or he may just be a run of the mill retired civil servant basking in tropical luxury retirement on a frugal pension, if you’re inclined to buy that bridge. Meanwhile, Winona Ryder simply distracts as a flaky corporate flack with a more personal, booze-laced menacing agenda.

Director David Hare (The Hours, The Reader) gets a grip on impressively crafted suspense momentum. But suspension of disbelief when it comes to plot resolutions, is another matter. The greedy oligarch and government baddies alike get too swift and convenient comeuppances in a world where little about these corrupt matters surrounding secret prisons and state terror tortures there have been settled, as we speak. Or even addressed by the simultaneously owned corporate media. Though just raising such questions however elusive, that are routinely bypassed everywhere else, adds a sense of significant documentary immediacy to the proceedings.

And while Helena Bonham Carter is pretty much sidelined as a permanently lovesick operative who can’t seem to get over Nighy as the secret object of her undercover desire, she nevertheless gets the best lines – for a woman in any movie. In other words, that female hopes and dreams don’t always revolve totally around men, Hence, a pointed reprimand for Nighy:

‘Just so we’re clear, I didn’t give up everything because of you. I am against torture, and I’m against it being covered up. So anything I do isn’t just because of you. It’s also because it was time something was done.’

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.