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DVD Review

The Last Enemy


Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Anamaria Marinca, Max Beesley, Robert Carlyle, Eva Birthistle and Geraldine James
Universal Playback
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 10 March 2008

When the reclusive Stephen Ezard returns to London for the funeral of his brother Michael, he feels like a stranger in his own country. National security fears have transformed Britain into a security state where ID cards are compulsory and armed police patrol the streets. He is startled to discover that Michael had a beautiful wife, Yasim, and seeks comfort in her arms. But Yasim is on a mission of her own. Terrified of losing her, Stephen agrees to support a secretive government project - but his actions trigger a spiral of deadly events...

The Last Enemy is a five-part BBC drama that originally began broadcasting in the UK in February 2008. So, I was a little surprised to see Universal Playback, who has long since made a name for itself in releasing cult shows from years ago on DVD, behind this release. It also made me wonder whether some potential purchasers might be put off by thinking that it was an old '80s series that they'd not heard of before.

The series is set in a near-future UK. Biometrics is power and as such retinal scanning, RFID tagging and identity cards are all commonplace. Any UK citizen who wants access to healthcare, public transport or any other service we take for granted, can only do so if they have a valid ID card.

But the government wants to go further. They want to introduce the "TIA" system, a centralised database that correlates all available information on each resident of the UK and allows government departments to monitor each and every one of us.

No one is more surprised by how quickly the UK has become so reliant on technology to prove who we are than Stephen Ezard, a scientist who left to work in Japan a few years before. Forced to return to attend his brother's funeral, Stephen soon stumbles upon an experiment that went wrong - an experiment that if the press were to get hold off would expose the real objectives for implementing a Big Brother culture.

Kidnapped by a violent man, seduced by an old lover with friends in high places and followed at every turn, Stephen doesn't know who he can trust. When he tries to uncover the truth behind his brother's death he discovers that his civil liberties have been so seriously eroded that his investigation makes him an enemy of the state.

Extras include Deleted Scenes (4 mins of rather dull scenes that were cut from the finished series); Making of (28 min, 39 sec behind the scenes featurette which features interviews will cast and crew. This features plenty of behind the scenes footage, including all of the major effects sequences); Outtakes (4 min, 12 sec worth of mistakes - only really worth watching for the rather bizarre actions of an extra in the House of Commons segment); and a Photo Gallery.

An interesting drama that is surprisingly close to reality that it does make you think seriously about the consequences of the real implementation of ID cards and a DNA database.


Nick Smithson

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