As you might remember, last week I discussed the first in the Red Riding trilogy, 1974. I won’t discuss what went on at the end of that because I’m sure many of you haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. But, really, you should make the time because these movies are great. On to 1980…
It’s 1980 and there is definitely a rotten stench up north. The Yorkshire Ripper, as he’s known, has been going around killing prostitutes for almost six years now and nowt has been done about it. 13 women have been brutally murdered so far, with no end in sight. We discovered in the previous film that Yorkshire police’s force is corrupt as fuck. They’re involved in so much illegal shit and cover-ups, it would be impossible to try and keep track. The government is now getting involved because, well, it looks bad having a mad killer on the loose and they want this guy caught, or so they say, anyway. They send over Manchester Assistant Chief Constable Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine). Hunter has the reputation of being clean and above board. It’s like sending a lamb to the slaughter.
From the start, Hunter is not given a warm welcome. Hunter is remembered by everyone because he was brought in to work the Karachi Club massacre (see 1974). He and his team, including Helen Marshall (Maxine Peake), are given an ‘office’ in the bowels of the police headquarters and are assigned Officer Bob Craven (Sean Harris). Hunter remembers Craven as one of the people involved at the Karachi Club. Craven is no help to Hunter at all. In fact, no one wants to help Hunter with any part of his investigation and do everything in the power to hinder him.
Hunter plows ahead and discovers one of the murdered women attributed to the Yorkshire Ripper might have had a different killer. Someone calling themselves ‘The Ripper’ has sent in tape recordings to the police. The locals think it was the actual Yorkshire Ripper, but Hunter thinks not. The more Hunter looks into the case, the murkier it becomes. A dead officer is linked to one of the murders, which only points to more police corruption.
After being warned to stop his investigation, Hunter receives photographs of himself doing something not exactly by the books. He continues his work anyway and interviews more people connected to the police and the murders. He and his team are given time off for Christmas and over his holiday, Hunter and his wife (Lesley Sharp) come home to a nasty surprise. Shortly afterwards, Hunter is told by his superiors he has been taken off the case entirely due to disciplinary reasons. He returns to Yorkshire anyway for a meeting with Detective Superintendent Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey). Of course, suddenly someone actually confesses to the all the murders, except for one. Hunter isn’t convinced and looks for the one person he knows has more information. When he gets what he is looking for, Hunter makes the fateful decision to return to the station to tell Detective Chief Superintendent John Nolan (Tony Pitts) everything he knows.
Whew! The amount of muck and mire revolving around the investigation in 1980 is enough to make you want to have a shower. Poor Hunter; he’s just a good guy trying to stop all the corruption. Except when you pass yourself off as a good guy, you know your opposition is going to nail you for it. Paddy Considine is terrific in this. He’s such a great actor; I wish he was in everything. Again, as in the 1974, all the acting is fantastic. Special shout out to Sean Harris (probably most famous as playing Ian Curtis in 24 Hour Party People, in which Considine played Rob Gretton) who is one of the scariest cops ever put on screen.
1980 might seem a little hard to follow as it blends people and situations with 1974 but, please, stick with it. You’ll be rewarded by the end because, really, this second installment is pretty amazing. It doesn’t suffer from ‘middle-it is’ in that it isn’t just a gateway to get to the final film. Although these films are a trilogy, they each stand on their own. Hold on to your flat caps because next week it’s 1984 and if you think these last two were bleak, the next one is a motherfucking doozy!
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