The TV review of the undeclared war

Reason: set in 2024, The undeclared war traces a leading team of analysts buried at the heart of GCHQ, secretly working to thwart a series of cyber attacks on Britain in the run-up to a general election. When a routine stress test of internet infrastructure goes awry, 21-year-old GCHQ intern Saara Parvin suddenly finds herself operating on the invisible frontier of high-stakes cyber warfare.

Review: We live in an era of automation, technology and progress, which also means that our creepiest stories will center on someone taking advantage of the advances that make our society work. While we often see evil villains threatening the world in big-budget action movies such as Impossible mission, the threat is very real and is even scarier when presented realistically. The new series The undeclared war suggests such a scenario that brings modern society to its knees when political superpowers play god with global infrastructure. Set over six episodes, The undeclared war is a terrifying look at our very near future that resonates with our real-world news cycle.

The Undeclared War, a co-production between Peacock and UK network Channel 4, is set for just two years from now. With tensions lingering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-present specter of enmity with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the series kicks off with a cyber attack that cripples the internet in England. Focusing on the operators at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the series looks at the urgent investigation into who launched the attack, why and whether they will strike again. Over the course of six chapters, The Undeclared War takes a deep dive into not only the British response to their attack, but also how the intelligence agents dig through millions of pieces of data to find clues.

One of the biggest challenges in telling a geopolitical thriller without spies like James Bond, Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt is how to portray the detail of scraping data for clues in an exciting way. Series creator Peter Kosminsky and his team of writers use some clever visual tricks to bring this action to the screen in one Beginning-similar way. As the first episode begins, we follow Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown), an intern at GCHQ, and see her forays into the data. We see Saara walking through empty offices, climbing ladders, digging into books and interacting with others in a surreal world that personifies the work she does on her keyboard. It’s an interesting approach to such sequences that haven’t been flashed by less realistic stories like The Matrix, the Webor Hackers but still manages to give the work some necessary immediacy.

Parvin, a relative newcomer with only a handful of credits to her name, is superb as the genial Saara. Dealing with the stigma of being a woman and a Muslim in one of the most volatile roles in government, Parvin plays Saara as a character who lacks confidence in her own skills but is forced to deal with the stress from the free world that rides. on her shoulders. She is surrounded by veterans such as Mark Rylance as John Yeabsley and Simon Pegg as Danny Patrick. Both Rylance and Pegg have appeared in a number of projects across genres and bring a degree of gravitas to this contentious story. Pegg is especially solid in a dramatic role that doesn’t rely on his brilliant comic timing.

The weak point i The undeclared war is that it thinks it is far smarter than it actually is. After only airing overseas a few months ago, the series created a stir reminiscent of Orson Welles’ infamous airing of world War. The ads were made to look like actual news broadcasts, which sent some British viewers into hysterics. While that type of marketing buzz would often help a series’ ratings, viewers who tuned in likely found themselves a little underwhelmed by the series’ pacing. The story sometimes feels stretched to fit half a dozen episodes and could easily have been compressed into a three-part drama, but there are several subplots that deepen our understanding of the characters, especially Saara. There are also several red herrings designed to throw us off the true culprit behind the cyber attacks, which are much easier to figure out than the authors thought they would be.

The undeclared war is a thriller with smart characters living in a world eerily similar to our own. While the decisions the characters make are sometimes confusing, the realistic depiction of what terrorism can look like without a single bullet being fired is unsettlingly prescient. I commend the filmmakers for taking the risk of predicting a real-world scenario that hopefully never happens, but this series could very well seem foolishly dated in a few years. For now, watching this series in 2022 makes me fear what could happen in 2024, and for that alone, this series is a success. Overall, The undeclared war could have done with a bit more editing and a tighter final episode. As it stands, this series features solid performances from Rylance and Pegg and a solid introduction to Hannah Khalique-Brown.

The undeclared war premiered on Aug. 18 at the Peacock.

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