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The Tourist series two review – Jamie Dornan is hugely charming in this gloriously fun show

This raucous, entertaining thriller is the perfect vehicle for the one-time Fifty Shades star. It’s twisty, funny and unfailingly engaging


‘Perfectly nails a tone that is grisly but rambunctious in equal measure’ … Jamie Dornan in The Tourist series two.


When Fifty Shades of Grey arrived in cinemas in 2015, Dakota Johnson was its breakout star. She would delight the internet by going on to declare that her No 1 priority was sleeping, rhapsodising about limes and going viral with an awkward Ellen interview, while straddling indie darlings and the odd blockbuster to cement her A-list status.


But things have not been so smooth for her S&M trilogy co-star Jamie Dornan, who has largely been making forgettable action movies, failed awards bait and the utterly dire Wild Mountain Thyme. With the exception of Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar and his chilling turn as a serial killer in The Fall (which was sullied by his admission that he stalked a woman to get into character), his legacy is on shakier ground.


Thankfully, Dornan’s excellent turn in 2022’s twisted BBC thriller The Tourist, which pivoted between nauseatingly tense, blackly comic and surprisingly sweet, turns out not to have been a fluke; its second season is just as joyous a rollercoaster. The first series introduced Dornan as Elliot Stanley, an amnesiac Irishman in the Australian outback trying to piece together his past while a litany of figures tried to lock him up or kill him. His only ally came in the form of people-pleasing Constable Helen Chambers (Danielle Macdonald).


The pair ended the series having formed the beast with two backs and discovered that Elliot was something of a beast himself. We found out that he stole cash from a gangster for whom he used to smuggle heroin, with one of his victims pulling up her shirt in the finale to reveal how his human mules would be sliced open to retrieve the goods.


Evidently, Helen looked past this reddest of red flags. Season two begins with them on a train to Cambodia 14 months later, still blissfully ensconced in the honeymoon phase. But she has been keeping a secret. She reveals to bushy-bearded Elliot that she has kept a letter with a photograph that was sent to the police station from “Tommy”, telling Elliot it is now “time you found out who you really are”. The two travel to Ireland in search of answers, but needless to say this isn’t going to be a typical family reunion. An impressively violent, gloriously fun caper lies ahead.


‘Grisly and rambunctious in equal measure’ … Danielle Macdonald in The Tourist series two.


The Tourist perfectly nails a tone that is grisly and rambunctious in equal measure. A heart-stoppingly tense chase through the countryside, in which a van threatens to squish our forgetful protagonist, ends on a superbly silly punchline, with him falling down a never-ending hill, each protracted tumble and roll getting more hilarious. Separated from his loving girlfriend, it’s a fight to stay alive as she tries to figure out what the hell is going on and why everyone in this sleepy patch of rural Ireland is bloodthirsty, deranged or both.


Meanwhile, poor Elliot is in a cycle of capture, escape and recapture by a sadistic crew connected to his colourful past. They are having a whale of a time playing Jigsaw-esque games with him, suggesting he saw off his own legs to escape. Dornan finds the humour with a bemused reaction to this gory but befuddling plan.


The twists come thick and fast: some funny, some cruel, almost all ludicrous. The Tourist is tautly plotted and performed with such flourish that it’s always engaging, even in its most implausible flights of fancy. Its no-holds-barred enthusiasm is hugely infectious.


By the time the fourth of the six episodes that were made available for review concludes, it’s hard to recall precisely how or why we ended up here. The creators’ penchant for a plot twist every 12 minutes or so, and a new villain being introduced just about as frequently, means the recaps at the start of each episode do a lot of the heavy lifting. But even if you struggle to follow exactly who wants what and why they are seeking revenge or a big payout, the show skates by on its charms. The Tourist proves that even if every project has not been able to showcase Dornan’s charms, he certainly has an ample supply at his disposal.


The Tourist aired on BBC One and is available on BBC iPlayer.


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