Director – Stuart Orme, Teleplay – Tom Needham, Producer – Ian White, Photography – Tony Coldwell, Music – Colin Towns, Visual Effects Supervisor – Tanvir Hanif, Makeup Designer – Samantha Marshall, Production Design – Grant Montgomery. Production Company – Granada Television/ITV Productions
Jemma Redgrave (DI Eve Granger), Matthew Kelly (Brian Wicklow), John Hannah (Jake Osbourne), Alison Fiske (Barbara Fletcher), Pauline Quirke (DCI Hazel Norton), Ace Bhatti (DI Ajay Roychowdury), Will Roache (Joss Armstrong), Paul Gabriel (PC Neal Doyle)
The police are called in to investigate after an infant child is snatched at a mall. They are unsure what to make of it when the child’s name is discovered to be Jake Osbourne. The media have a field day when this is leaked. Eve Granger cannot be sure if Brian Wicklow is behind this. When closed circuit tv footage shows a woman as the abductor, they suspect Wicklow’s sister Barbara. Barbara has gone missing. When her house is searched, a 40-year-old stillborn foetus is found wrapped in a dress. They fabricate the announcement of Wicklow’s death in the press to bring her out. However, she denies any knowledge and nothing can be found directly linking her to the abduction. It is not clear if she and Wicklow are playing a complex game and if they are working in conjunction or attempting to dig into past hurts that exist between them. As Eve and Jake puzzle over the nature of the game, Jake’s estranged son Joss becomes the next to be abducted.
The Last Hurrah was the fifth and final of the Cold Blood tv movies made by Granada/ITV. The series had begun with Cold Blood (2005-6), featuring Jemma Redgrave as a detective going to talk to serial killer Matthew Kelly and becoming wound up in his psychological games. The success of this resulted in three follow-ups in 2007 with Cold Blood: Interference (2007), Cold Blood: Dead and Buried (2007) and Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah here. The three follow-ups have to be regarded as relative disappointments. The electric tension of the first two films in the games that Matthew Kelly played with the police ended up being curtailed – Matthew Kelly’s Brian Wicklow took a backseat in Interference and did not even appear in Dead and Buried, with the tense psychological games of the first two films being replaced by mundane police procedurals.
Stuart Orme who directed Cold Blood‘s I and II returns here after the previous two segments were handed over to Suri Krishnamma. Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah redresses the balance somewhat and brings the games with Matthew Kelly’s Wicklow back to centre stage. That said, Wicklow’s return lacks the degree of brilliance that Cold Blood‘s I and II had. Certainly, the plot that Tom Needham starts in with has one’s head spinning at the number of things he has all abruptly happening at once – the police investigating a child abduction at a mall, the sudden discovery that the missing child is named Jake Osbourne, wondering about the connection to Wicklow, the discovery of his sister gone missing and the meaning of the dead foetus left in her bed, the media scrum, Jake’s attempts to contact his son. However, there is still not enough of Wicklow and his games – Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah substitutes Wicklow and his sister playing a cryptic game with one another but this never hits in with the same ingenuity. Most of the time, you sit wondering where all of these script elements are going.
Stuart Orme creates a fine scene in the middle of the film with an elaborate police pursuit set up to follow Alison Fiske, only for her to cleverly outwit everybody. Despite a long build-up where one is frustrated at not being sure where the show is going, Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah eventually comes together at the end with Matthew Kelly escaping from his bed by cutting his thumb off, his meeting up with his sister and a final bloody showdown between he, Jemma Redgrave and John Hannah. For all that, the series’ wrap-up is disappointing. You feel that Wicklow’s end should have been infinitely more devious than a confrontation in a hospital surgery. Even though we see him in his true demoniac light and killing for the first time in the entire series, there is little of the genius sadist that we saw in the earlier entries. Moreover, while the relationship between Eve and Jake is resolved, the dual nature of Jake’s character and the secrets that Parts III and IV kept hinting she was afraid of finding remain unexplored. What the show feels like is that the people who created it did not know where it was going to end up themselves and were left with having to come up with a wrap-up that lacked the strength of what they had originally conceived.
Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah does throw in one amusingly snide joke with Matthew Kelly’s Wicklow sitting in his hospital bed reading Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Rising (2006) and commenting “As if”, something that is pertinent in that The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is the clear inspiration for the Cold Blood films. It something that sits just between being a cute margin aside and far too obvious a tipping of the series’ source of inspiration.