Predators Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Only five years ago, Tom Hardy was the nation’s mumbler in chief, baffling viewers as formidably butch top-hatted adventurer Jack Delaney in the BBC drama Taboo. Some viewers were angry, while others calculated that the 98 pig-like grunts Hardy emitted in the first seven episodes were not so much signs of an apparently pre-verbal role, as a cry for help.
How lovely to report then that in Sky Nature’s new series Predators, Hardy has stepped back from the edge of incomprehensibility. In future episodes, polar bears, wild dogs, pumas and lions will take centre stage, but here we watch two male cheetahs off as much Tanzanian fauna as they can get their teeth into as Hardy narrates with the crisp enunciation of a post-makeover Eliza Doolittle. Perhaps reading bedtime stories mellows a person.
The only pig-like grunts you’ll hear in Predators come from the prey that realise all too late that, like the innocent insects eaten by Matt Hancock, their fate is to have their last moments supply bloody entertainment for allegedly higher life forms.
But there is a problem. Sky presumably hired Hardy because, like a latter-day Ross Kemp or Vinnie Jones, he has a masculinist CV to lend credibility to the script. Here, though, he brings something more likably fey to his task. He’s neither as comically stentorian as Matt Berry, nor as whisperingly mannered as David Attenborough, but rather redolent of some old-school English thespian as he sets the scene. “In Tanzania’s Serengeti, a notorious brotherhood of cheetahs,” he intones. Or: “A flotilla of crocodiles, the apex predators of this water world.”
Kudos to Hardy – I never had to turn on the subtitles, which is more than you can say about most of television’s mumblecore output.
My favourite speech comes when our two protagonists expect to have to fight an interloping male, before learning a surprising truth. “The rival male is a female and despite the frosty welcome, she wants to mate. Females only mate with males who are fit and strong.” Nature is not only red in tooth and claw, but apparently implacably heteronormative. Does it really have to be this way? We know there are gay penguins; when are gay cheetahs going to get representation?
Director Will Benson has assembled footage from drones, Jeep-mounted rigs and other devices to trace a narrative arc that uncannily echoes the recent series of Gangs of London. Two young male cheetahs (think Ron and Reggie Kray) are trying to establish their dominance in a well lush manor in the Serengeti. But a quartet of interloping youngers – whom Hardy calls the Solaro brothers – are muscling in on the boys’ turf, hungry for blood, power and to mate with any ovulating females in the vicinity.
In a nod to the broader climate crisis, Hardy tells us that drought conditions have made the savannah into a tinder box readily consumed by fire. And so it comes to pass: a sequence of flaming red skies backlit by the setting sun. The fires consume or displace the cheetahs’ prey and, as the smoke wafts hundreds of miles north, makes a mega-herd of at least 1 million wildebeest plus thousands of zebras and hartebeests, who sniff the breeze doubtfully and pause on their migration south to the once nutritious grasslands. In gangland drama terms, this mega-herd is a drug shipment on which the feuding mobsters depend.
Instead, lean times sweep the parched Serengeti. Cheetahs are reduced to preying on hares, which, though they scamper decorously, are never going to outpace the fastest land mammals. In a heart-catching moment, one of the Solaro brothers, a bag of bones that hasn’t eaten for days, falls with a thump to the ground. As he lies breathing his last, the camera crew goes in for the closeup, and we see a predating hyena at the back of the shot. Neither camera crew nor park rangers intervene. The policy, Hardy tells us, is to let nature run its course.
When the rains come to the Serengeti, they are followed by the migrating mega-herd, none of which presumably realise that they may soon be the cheetahs’ main course. Our brothers’ bellies swell accordingly, the turf war with the Solaro brothers reaches a truce and the jeopardy is over. For now.