Future’s So Bright…
“Hard Sun” on Hulu
American streaming service Hulu teams up with the British Broadcasting Corporation for a nail-biting new series that combines a gritty cop drama with a conspiracy thriller and sticks it all inside an end-of-the-world disaster movie. “Hard Sun” premiered on BBC One in January and is hitting American shores, courtesy of Hulu, in March. The series is the work of writer-creator Neil Cross, best known as the man behind the stylish, fan fave crime thriller “Luther.”
Everything begins in familiar cop show territory. We have, for starters, Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess from Across the Universe). Hicks is your average, genially corrupt cop. He steals money from gangsters at gunpoint and is having an affair with his dead partner’s wife—despite having a daughter and pregnant wife of his own. As the story gets underway, Hicks is assigned a new partner in the form of Detective Inspector Elaine Renko (edgy English model-turned-actress Agyness Deyn). She’s got her own complicated backstory, involving a brutal murder attempt that hit a little too close to home. Hicks doesn’t trust Renko, believing that she’s been brought in to keep an eye on him by higher-ups in the department. Turns out, yeah, she’s secretly investigating whether Hicks killed his old partner.
Such everyday cop drama concerns become small potatoes, however, when Hicks and Renko are called in to investigate the alleged suicide of a young computer hacker. Tracking down some data that the hacker stole, our protagonists instantly become the target of government-backed assassins. Turns out the secret data files all pertain to a highly classified study proving our sun is about to go crazy, skyrocketing temperatures, boiling away rivers and killing crops on Earth. The government believes we have all of five years before this “extinction level event” destroys humanity. Evidently, a cabal of scientist and government agents want to keep this a secret to prevent mass panic and riots—and they’re willing to kill to do it.
Described as a “pre-apocalyptic crime drama” by its creator, “Hard Sun” provides the ultimate ticking time bomb around which to construct its drama. Renko wants to give all the “Hard Sun” files to the media. Hicks doesn’t (mostly because he wants to keep his wife and daughter safe). In addition to all the thorny ethical dilemmas and creepy government killers, Renko and Hicks are tasked with keeping their loved ones safe and upholding the law in a world where time is running out. Does saving lives and protecting people even matter if we’ve only got five years to live?
“Hard Sun” packs a lot into each episode and requires a bit of attention to keep all the storylines and characters in order, but it’s worth it for the unexpected moments—as in the climax of the first episode, a brutal clash of ideologies (not to mention nightsticks) between Hicks and Renko. Cross says he’s got a full five years of this show plotted out—each one taking us closer and closer to the end of the world. That’s an alternately intriguing, depressing and binge-worthy prospect.