AMMAN: ‘The Tourist’ doesn’t waste time. This gripping six-episode mini-series starts with a high-octane car chase (well, a truck chasing a car) in the expansive Australian outback, at the end of which the man in the car (Jamie Dornan) is left upside-down in steaming wreckage. However, his would-be killer the truck driver, a sinister whistling man in a cowboy hat, conveniently neglects to check that he’s dead and The Man (as Dornan’s character is known for at least the early episodes) wakes up in hospital with no memory of who he is and how he got there.
The only clue he has is a note in his pocket telling him to meet the unknown writer of said note in Burnt Ridge (a small outback town) at a set time and place. And the only person who seems particularly interested in helping him find out who he is is probationary police constable Helen Chambers (played by the excellent Danielle Macdonald).
It quickly becomes clear that — whoever The Man is (or was) — someone wants him dead. The intimation is that he is himself a Bad Man, but in his new no-memory persona that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Dornan is very good as this blank-slate guy, portraying him with a convincing mixture of bewilderment, frustration, cynical humor and flashes of anger as he slowly begins to piece together at least some of his movements prior to winding up in hospital. But each piece generally leads to just more questions. Luckily for The Man, there are several kind-hearted (apparently) strangers willing to help him out. Usually women. Probably because he looks like Jamie Dornan.
Writers Harry and Jack Williams have put together a brilliantly paced story with numerous twists that keep the viewer hooked. There’s also a welcome undercurrent of humor throughout — as well as some spectacularly gory violence — and an enjoyable contrast between edge-of-the-seat tension and sleepy small-town vibes. To say too much more about the story risks ruining the show, as every episode has at least a couple of jaw-dropping reveals that will leave you shouting at the screen.
The supporting cast all put in great performances, but it’s the cracking odd-couple chemistry between Dornan’s amnesiac and Macdonald’s ingenuous constable that drives “The Tourist” and makes it a hugely entertaining ride — particularly if you don’t examine the occasional plot hole too closely.