The original 'Cracker' was one of my favorite television shows ever. Actor Robbie Coltrane's ultra-complex interpretation of the writing of the brilliant Jimmy McGovern was a smorgasbord of passive/aggressive layers as the working class heroic psychologist, Edward 'Fitz' Fitzgerald went to war with various hubris-ridden serial killers and the bureaucracy of the city of Manchester's homicide division. Check out the old show and you'll be awed by the writing and acting. Fitz is the first convincing degenerate gambler and hard-core alcoholic who still comes off as a sympathetic hero I've ever caught on the glass teat, anyway. Unfortunately, McGovern got bored and quit. Consequently, with new writers, the final season of the show became a series of repeated hack-written clichés. Eleven years later, with a new world order influenced by the aftermath of 9/11, Coltrane and McGovern have mounted up again. "Cracker: A New Terror" is a single, one-shot free-standing episode directed by Antonia Bird (The Hamburg Cell.) Billed as the final episode of "Cracker," it is a massive disappointment.
Plot-wise, Fitz and his long-suffering hag of a wife Judith (Barbara Flynn), and their youngest son are back in Manchester, having lived as expatriates in Australia for a decade. Bored, fatter and grumpier, he is back in Manny taking noprisoners. Naturally, he humiliates his daughter at her wedding; and makes Learesque speeches about the state of a post-Colonial Americanized United Kingdom. Sadly, all the awards and money definitely seem to have gone to Mr. McGovern's head because he's turned Fitz into a sort of jukebox of pious 'liberal' anti-American propaganda. Anyway, someone naughty is killing Americans. In no time at all, Fitz has sussed out the guilty party, an ultra-sensitive local cop, Kenny Archer, played by Anthony Flanagan. Archer suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his previous service in the bloody, long-running war in Northern Ireland. Blaming everything wrong with the world on Yanks, Flanagan plays the demented veteran as a robotized psychopath. Having figured out who did it, Fitz just has to convince everybody else in authority that Archer is the killer.
If you were hoping for a good thriller. This is not it. If you're interested in McGovern's theory that Americans brought 9/11 on themselves, you'll like it. If Manchester is drowning in heroin addiction, it's because of America's war on the Taliban. The Troubles in the six counties of Northern Ireland, it seems, had nothing to do with sectarianism and British anti-Catholic prejudice. No! It's the fault of Irish-Americans for sponsoring Sinn Fein and the Provos. Yawn! All I can say is: "Brecht is dead, Jimmy: Get a life!" The only saving grace of this abysmal crap is the marvelous tension between Fitz and his wife. Coltrane and Flynn are so tuned into one another as actors that they're a pleasure to watch. Do yourself a favor, avoid this one and revisit the original!
T. lopopolo | Coopersburg, PA United States | 08/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robbie Coltrane is back in this thriller...he's older, fatter, and even more restless and risks his family, the admiration of his son, and his time with his new granddaughter, to "get on" with an intriguing case. Someone is killing people by breaking their necks. In the meantime you really get into the head of the killer, who is a vulnerable, sympathetic character and you gain a different perspective on the IRA problem. All the regulars appear in this full-length episode and I was thrilled to get back to the series; so well-acted, each and every character perfectly cast, as always. Poor Mrs. Fitz; she can't get her husband to hang around and just play the grandfather! I hope they will make more Cracker episodes..!
Some Viewers Had Best Give It a Miss
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 07/28/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Cracker: A New Terror," a free-standing episode of the highly-popular, highly-acclaimed, award-winning British 1990's television detective series -- it made its initial debut in 1993 -- was made by Granada, in 2006, for British Independent Television (ITV). It was seen in the United States on BBC America, and released here on DVD in late 2007. The mystery/thriller was written by the veteran Jimmy McGovern, creator of the series, and writer of some of its strongest episodes, and directed by Antonia Bird (The Hamburg Cell.) It stars, as usual, Robbie Coltrane, who since this 1990s TV triumph that first made him famous, has gone on to burnish his name on the bigger screen in Ocean's Twelve; the "Harry Potter" series, and a couple of "James Bond 007s." It is billed as the final episode of "Cracker," though some of us surely hope not.
In this feature-length production, Coltrane reprises his title role as Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald, controversial criminologist, abrasive, arrogant and brilliant psychologist. Coltrane dominates the film, of course, with his powerful portrayal of his character. At any rate, Fitz, his long-suffering wife Judith (Barbara Flynn), and their youngest son supposedly have lived as ex-pats in Australia for nearly a decade, while he grapples with his addictions to drink, cigarettes and gambling. They now return to their hometown, Manchester, for the wedding of his daughter. Fitz is, of course, older, fatter, and grayer, and, as a further result of his heavy indulgences, he's looking into Viagra. But he's still capable of rising to the occasion: he can mortify his daughter at her wedding; and get himself involved in helping the local police solve a puzzling murder case.
Fitz finds England much changed in the aftermath of America's horrendous 9/11 terrorist experience; and we are given frequent big bites of TV news shows dealing with American President George Bush, English Prime Minister Tony Blair, and our war in Iraq. Fitz also finds Manchester, a beautiful and interesting city that we don't generally see over here, greatly changed since he left: taxi drivers tell him the changes are due to American, Irish, and drug money: that the city's awash in drugs. The city's also awash in its own accent, that we on these shores would find difficult; happily, the DVD offers unadvertised closed captioning, among its advertised extra features: interviews with Coltrane, Flynn, McGovern, and other cast members, etc.
The murder investigation centers on a handsome, unusually sensitive young local cop, Kenny Archer, played by Anthony Flanagan. He appears to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his previous service in the bloody, long-running war in Northern Ireland. And he's come up with a series of interesting theories that blame everything on the U.S. We're responsible for the Northern Ireland war, as we -- mainly our Irish-Americans, of course-- bankrolled it. (And there are a couple of anti-Irish cracks in the film's text, too.) The terrorist attacks of 9/11 are nothing more than the terrorism we sponsored in Northern Ireland come home to haunt us, as well. We're also responsible for Manchester's drug problem, as we then threw the Taliban, the ruling clique of anti-American,Islamic crazies, who were controlling the drug trade, out of Afghanistan. Almost needless to say, finally, we're responsible for the mess in Iraq, and the deaths of British troops there. Did I mention that, beyond its undoubted competence as a mystery/thriller, the film is very anti-American, and will infuriate some possible viewers, who'd best give it a miss?
More Cracks Appear in Fitz' Family Life
Kathryn McGovern | Springfield, MO United States | 01/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fitz is so endearing because he is truly flawed. He smokes, gambles and definitely drinks too much. Just ask his daughter what she thinks about the toast he gave to her groom at their wedding. Yet, he manages to solve the latest string of murder cases by interrogating and exposing the culprit even though the police constable doesn't really listen to his ideas. And Fitz is brutally honest to his wife when he admits to her that he would rather spend time with the police officers than with his own grandchild. In response to the reviewers who thought the episode was too political and anti-American, I say that Cracker has always taken on the controversial issues of it's time. That is one of the factors which make the detective story seem realistic and intriguing to its fans. The worthwhile special features on the DVD include interviews with Robbie Coltrane, Jimmy McGovern, Barbara Flynn, Chris Eccleston and other members of the cast and creative team."
Paul Dsouza | Seattle, WA | 11/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was waiting for this one for a long time. "Fitz" is brilliant, as usual. And (as usual) he continues to be self-destructive. Having been away from England for 10 years, Fitz returns for his daughter's wedding but ends up helping the police crack open a murder investigation. The episode is truly worthwhile because it is used to highlight the differences between the "old" and the "new" i.e. the old city vs the new city, the old police department vs the new department, old crime vs new terror threat. The amazing thing is that even though everything has changed, Fitz hasn't. And it is precisely for that reason that he succeeds here also."
Let it go
K. Flagg | 07/08/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Old fat detectives that don't grow up? Charming back in 1993 not so much anymore. I got the set when it didn't include this one and it was intriguing and charming, and who doesn't love Robbie Coltrane, but as you can see, so far, only 3 reviewers gave this a 5 star, now go and see the reviews for the old Cracker Series and you'll see how far the mighty have fallen."