I rented this six episode mini-series over the past couple of weeks. A long time Prisoner fan, my scepticism had been wrestling with my curiosity for some time. It was “Why would they re-make a perfect show? Can’t Hollywood do anything original any more?” versus “I wonder how it turned out?” Eventually my curiosity won out.
How did it turn out? The story is in some ways very different than the original. They’ve moved the Village to the desert for one thing, and made it more of a living community, complete with children, but the real changes were of tone and focus. They took the concept of The Prisoner and moved in another direction altogether. Unfortunately, it’s a move that lacks the clarity and focus of the original. The chief problem of this remake is that it meanders along, never quite taking hold of its own plot, themes, or the viewer’s attention. In fact, the only thing that salvages the series at all is the acting. Jim Caviezel’s ability to convey subtleties saves this version of 6/Michael (yes, we’re given a name this time) from coming off as whiney and self-absorbed. Ian McKellen plays 2/Mr. Curtis throughout. His character is often creepily intimidating, an avuncular Kim Jong-il. His suffers most from the lack of focus. This number 2 has a wife, kept in a drug induced coma-like condition, and a teenage son. They turn out to be very important, but why isn’t explained until the final episode and that explanation, like so much of his story, comes across as undeveloped and poorly thought out.
If they took the first and sixth episodes and bits of the other four, I think this could be re-edited into a much better, much tighter two hour movie, one I’d like to see, but after watching the first disc I put on the first episode of the original series. I was immediately struck by its clarity and focus. However convoluted the machinations of the Village and the various 2’s, the show, and Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan), always conveyed a razor sharp focus. Something sadly missing here.