There's nothing like a good heist drama, and "Inside Men" (9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 20 on BBC America) looks like one of the better examples of the genre.
This review will be shorter than usual for two reasons: First, I want to post this recommendation as soon as I can, given that the four-part series begins tonight, and second, to give anything away about how the story unfolds would ruin a lot of what makes this UK drama an enjoyably tense diversion.
If you saw the Idris Elba cop show "Luther," you'll recognize a couple of the faces in the cast: Steven Mackintosh ("Luther's" DC Ian Reid) stars as a mild-mannered manager at a cash-processing facility, and Steven Brown ("Luther's" DS Justin Ripley) plays a worker at the facility.
Mackintosh has just the right hangdog qualities for his man-in-a-grey-flannel suit role: His character has to blend into the background and be believable as a stressed out middle-manager, but the twists and turns of the story ensure that he gets to show other facets of his elusive character. Like Mackintosh, Brown was very enjoyable on "Luther," and the core trio is rounded out by another solid English actor, Ashley Walters.
A lot of the point of "Inside Men" is to show what people are capable of in the face of temptation, or even in the face of the obstacles of everyday life. This isn't a character-driven drama per se; the focus is on the energetic tick-tock of the plot, which is told through flashbacks and other judiciously used plot maneuvers. But what we want from a heist drama, aside from seeing a clever and dangerous plan unfold, are a few glimpses at the darker sides of human nature. What motivates people to take things, and how much are they willing to grab? Who can you trust and can you even trust yourself?
I've only seen the first two of "Inside Men's" four episodes, but I'm intrigued enough to keep going. It's got a smart pace, good performances and it's a relief not to have to commit to something long-term. Any good heist team knows that you should get in and get out with as little fuss as possible, and this economical thriller gets that right.
As summer escapes go, "Inside Men" looks like a pretty safe bet.