Acorn Media // 2008 // 134 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge William Lee (Retired) // June 17th, 2011
"No guns. No mess. I didn't even have to leave the office."
Wired is described as "an edge-of-your-seat financial thriller" on the DVD cover art and I'll concur that watching the progress bar on a download can be a tense experience. Even if you prefer to use the full surface area of your seat, this U.K. television series (also known as Wir£d) is a fast and enjoyable high-tech crime story. Acorn Media delivers the three 45-minute episodes on a single DVD.
Louise Evans (Jodie Whittaker, Tess of the D'Urbervilles) has just been promoted at her bank to look after the accounts of their wealthiest clients. Her first big assignment is the money transfer from the sale of an energy company. Enter the blackmailers Phillip Manningham (Laurence Fox, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and Manesh Kunzru (Riz Ahmed, Rage), two stylish but brutal thugs who want to intercept the money as it moves across cyberspace. Above them is the Ralindi crime family who will launder the money for a cut; underneath the middlemen are moles inside the bank as well as employees being coerced or otherwise used in the scheme. Undercover cop Crawford Hill (Toby Stephens, Die Another Day) wants to collar the big players but after making contact with Louise, his judgment might be compromised by his personal feelings for her. However, Louise isn't a complete innocent in these matters, which is why the blackmailers have some leverage over her. Years ago, Louise defrauded the bank and thought she had gotten away with it. Not trusting any of the parties seeking her cooperation, Louise may have to choose the option that best covers her assets.
Knowing nothing about the financial industry, I have to accept that a transfer of millions will require more safeguards than simply signing in to one's PayPal account. In the world of Wired, there are secret accounts and passwords and a selected team of keyboard jockeys that come into play. This seems to create more security holes than a press release and check signing would have but an elaborate heist would be much less interesting without the elaborate part. The joy of a story like this is seeing how the details come together and there are a few tense moments as the little fish in the scheme do their parts to set up the big plan. Most of these moments amount to watching a progress bar on a computer monitor but those scenes work in a setting that is so completely connected to electronic tracking and surveillance. When a bank employee is fired for checking up on a boyfriend's financial records, it is a reminder that everything these characters do in their world is traceable.
The script by Kate Brooke and the direction by Kenny Glenaan keep the proceedings slim and fast. The quick pace makes it easy to watch all three episodes back-to-back because the tension is constant. However, this style doesn't serve the actors well as their characters are reduced to merely serving the plot points. The opening act hammers in the feeling of danger with overwrought music that forcefully makes its presence felt as each character is just being introduced. Whittaker is fine in the lead role but she often has to turn on a dime emotionally as the tone of a scene shifts. Fox and Ahmed as the blackmailers are the most interesting characters potentially. They're vicious creeps when they're manipulating those under their thumb but they also get out-muscled by the bigger players in the underworld.
If you can overlook the little gaps in logic and believability, Wired is a solid high-tech crime thriller that works like a wind-up machine. Once it gets moving, it's fast and precise enough to capture your attention for the full stretch. A quick-thinking damsel in distress, two menacing villains and a hunky cop contribute to an entertaining distraction.
The video presentation looks good and is free of compression problems. The clean, crisp video image is sharp and colors are strong. The stereo audio mix is adequate though I struggled slightly at first to hear every word of the dialogue. There are no bonus features.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 134 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated