Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty

In the vein of big-screen adventures like MASTER AND COMMANDER (2003), A&E's made-cable-TV swashbucklers are energetic and well-acted. 1803: Once commander of the Retribution, Horatio Hornblower (Ioan Gruffudd) is now just another unemployed seaman; tentative peace between France and England has relegated officers like Horatio to half-pay in Portsmouth,...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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In the vein of big-screen adventures like MASTER AND COMMANDER (2003), A&E's

made-cable-TV swashbucklers are energetic and well-acted. 1803: Once commander of the Retribution, Horatio Hornblower (Ioan Gruffudd) is now just another unemployed seaman; tentative peace between France and England has relegated

officers like Horatio to half-pay in Portsmouth, England. Although his landlady, Mrs. Mason (Barbara Flynn), is a bloodsucker, her daughter, Maria Mason (Julia Sawalha), intercedes to keep a roof over Horatio's head. As always, Admiral Edward Pellew (Robert Lindsay) steps in to save his protegee's bacon and appoints Horatio to helm the Hotspur. The only catch is that Horatio must

train Midshipman Hammond (Christian Coulson), the wet-behind-the-ears nephew of Captain Hammond (Ian McEhinney), who loathes Horatio. Reunited with Lieutenant Bush (Paul McGann), Horatio transports an anti-Napoleonic French major, Andre Cotard (Greg Wise), to an ocean-going rendezvous. When fiery sabotage rocks the pantry, the cook, Styles (Sean Gilder), pleads his innocence but submits to a flogging; Styles' xenophobic shipmates suspect Cotard. In reality, the culprits are a band of Irish extremists, who hate the English monarch more than the

French dictator. While reconnoitering, Horatio spots an invasion force in training; spying on French headquarters on shore, Horatio and his band are cut off from another exploratory party. Cowardly Midshipman Hammond lies about Horatio ordering a retreat. While trapped behind enemy lines, Horatio decides to blow up the enemy's semaphore tower. The safety of the British fleet may come down to the outcome of the war of wits between Horatio and Irish sympathizer Mr. Wolfe (Lorcan Cranitch). This deftly directed chronicle of the Napoleonic Wars, based on the saga by C.S. Forester, shines a spotlight on Irish loyalists and Horatio's subdued romance. Niall Leonard’s expertly tailored adaptation brings Horatio's sterling character to the fore, making it clear that duty and loyalty inform his every move.

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