Two wealthy gay men are discovered dead and mutilated, each with a silver spoon stuffed in his mouth. Detective Superintendent Red Metcalfe, known for his ability to get inside the minds of his quarry, is assigned to head the investigation.

Metcalfe assembles a top team, including his protege Jez Clifton (Jamie Draven), bright rookie Kate Beauchamp (Frances Grey) and - more awkwardly - Duncan Warren (Neil Dudgeon), a hard-bitten veteran who Metcalfe pipped for promotion.

Soon they have a suspect in custody. But then there is another murder. While the victim has a silver spoon in his mouth, nothing else tallies. The team seems to be back to square one.

Then, a chance revelation provides Red with the insight he needs to realise that they are dealing with a Biblically inspired murderer. Someone is working their way through the twelve Apostles.

Though the body count is higher, there's no mistaking that this BBC/Paramount 'amphibian' - a TV production with cinema aspirations - is a poor man's Se7en.

By the standards of television drama Messiah is quite a stylish and lavish - if very much by the numbers - production. The director, production designer, cinematographers and editors can all hold their heads up high.

But, other than a reasonably well-worked out central idea, the writing - Boris Starling co-adapting his own novel - is poor, lacking the narrative drive one would expect from a theatrical release. A good 30 minutes of detours and obvious red herrings could - and should - have been trimmed. Moreover, the characterisation is weak, rarely rising above worn-out cliches like 'maverick cop with a dark secret'. This might not matter on the big screen with big-name stars, but with character actors like Stott, it does, leaving them with little to work with. Sadly, they prove unable to rise above the limitations of the material.

Reviewed on: 31 Aug 2001
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Se7en meets Prime Suspect in this TV serial killer thriller.
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Director: Diarmuid Lawrence

Writer: Lizzie Mickery, Boris Starling

Starring: Ken Stott, Neil Dudgeon, Jamie Draven, Frances Grey, Michelle Forbes, Gillian Taylforth, Edward Woodward

Year: 2001

Runtime: 148 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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