Get ready for a different kind of big bang theory with the explosive new action series Back. Guy Davis stepped in the line of fire.
On top of that, it has a charismatic star turn by Richard Armitage ( from Robin Hood and, yes, Spooks) as Porter, a tough-as-nails action man who’s part warrior, part protector.
Porter is a man adrift when Strike Back begins, having left the SAS after an incident in Baghdad seven years earlier – when he made the fateful decision to disarm rather than kill a young suicide bomber – left most of his unit dead and his reputation in tatters.
Working as a security guard, he is stunned to see the teenager whose life he spared is now one of the hardened terrorists responsible for the kidnapping of a journalist in Iraq.
Seeking redemption, Porter calls upon his friend and former comrade Hugh Collinson ( Andrew Lincoln), now the head of the covert unit “ Section 20”, to get him reinstated and back into the battle.
Naturally enough, once Porter is in the thick of it in the Middle Eastern war zone, he discovers that he was gravely mistaken about what he thought actually happened to his unit seven years earlier. And as Strike Back progresses through a number of different missions in different hot spots around the globe, he gets closer and closer to the truth.
Of course, that journey towards the truth is punctuated by the kind of stuff that makes a show like this so thrilling, such as dramatic raids, precision assaults and daring escapes. That said, it also presents the odd stomachturning scene of waterboarding, whipping and hands being severed, so be warned.
Strike Back is really traditional Boy’s Own stuff with a high-tech, high-impact attitude, but it’s put together and performed with such panache that any of the tried-and-true clichés don’t seem to matter all that much.
Armitage, who has ably played heroes and villains with equal degrees of skill and dimension, is a compelling lead, conveying authority and ability without succumbing to bland heroic posturing.
And he’s well-supported by Lincoln, whose Collinson just might be hiding something behind his respectable facade, and a top-shelf cast of UK actors including Toby Stephens, Colin Salmon, Jodhi May and Alexander Siddig.
Given the presence displayed by Armitage in the lead role, and the way Strike Back’s finale leaves things open-ended enough for future adventures, it’s a little sad that the actor won’t be starring in the recently announced second season of the show. ( He accepted a sizeable role in The Hobbit, Peter Jackson’s prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it’s perhaps understandable.)
But Australian viewers may be pleased to learn that our own Sullivan Stapleton, seen in Animal Kingdom, has taken on the lead role in the new Strike Back series, so there’s a good chance the next round of explosive exploits will have a hero just as commanding.
On a mission: Richard Armitage meets some international conflict in Strike Back.