Witness Number 3 (2022)
23rd July 2022
It's business as usual for Jodie, a single mum who runs her own hairdressing salon, until she glances out of the window and catches a glimpse of an altercation between two men, but unbeknownst to her one of the men is about to be murdered in a gangland murder. In that seemingly innocuous split second, Jodie's life is turned upside down... forever.
When the police make an appeal, Jodie decides to come forward, to do her duty as a citizen and believing her information to be of little consequence she provides the police with descriptions of the pair, unaware of what crime has been committed. But she soon learns that she's the prosecution's key witness, known only as Witness Number 3 to protect her identity, and is assigned some police protection.
When the murderer - a key player in a local gang - realises that Jodie's evidence could put him behind bars, a terrifying campaign of intimidation starts. After encountering a man on her housing estate, who claims he needs to use her phone to contact his brother as he's been locked out of his flat, Jodie foolishly (but innocently) offers the use of her phone. Needless to say, the man isn't calling his brother to talk to him, he's simply calling someone to obtain Jodie's number.
What follows is a series threatening phone messages, disturbing videos of her and her son being followed and live videos of a masked gang, with one video in particular that quickly escalates into something more serious with dramatic consequences.
Just like the other two witnesses, will Jodie now withdraw her statement, or will she refuse to be bullied into submission and see it through to court?
In an effort to ramp up the tension the majority of the scenes take place in the dark. To be fair, darkness is the villain's friend, so it would make sense for it to be the case. However, this results in a rather subdued colour palette throughout which, at times, can make it quite hard to see what is going on. But, far from being a complaint, it all becomes quite effective when the gang members don their spookily illuminated masks.
Thankfully, even amongst the paranoia and gloom, images are clear enough throughout and there are no signs of artifacting or pixelisation. Whether this would be true of any heavily compressed digital broadcast or streaming service is a different matter. Hopefully, this wouldn't be the case.
As a terrestrial television series it is hardly surprising to discover that the sound is presented as a simple 192 Kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Even though there's dramatic music adding to the tension, there's still probably no need for your surround system here. Your soundbar or television speakers will be more than good enough to keep you in suspense.
The four 45 minute episodes are presented via a static and silent menu system. The episodes can be selected individually, or if you're in the mood for a binge watch, they can also be played in one go.
Running at over 30 minutes, the extras consist of a number of Behind the Scenes Interviews with the Cast and Crew. Fortunately, they are split into their component parts and can either be individually viewed, or watched in one go.
With optional subtitles available, there are interviews with main actors Nina Toussaint-White, Sion Daniel Young, Clare Dunne, Sue Johnston (revealing an interest fact about the film location) along with other cast members, plus writer Thomas Eccleshare and director Diarmuid Goggins. Whilst a lot of the information is repeated by both cast and crew, it's still interesting to get their various perspectives on the plot.
It's hard to tell whether Witness Number 3 is a true representation of what happens to a police witness, but if any of it comes close to being reality then I'm sure Witness Number 3 is going to be the worse advertisement ever for any potential witness to come forward to the police and offer witness testimony. It may be less of a problem for "lessor" cases, but if there's a high profile "Mr Big" style case to be dealt with, then witness intimidation would be a serious concern - and Witness Number 3 scared me.
Without revealing too much of the plot here, if the police must apply for funding to allow them to protect a key witness, even for getting a new key chain on the front door or panic alarm installed, then it truly is a poor state of affairs. If witness intimidation was going on, the first thing the police should have been doing was moving the person from their home, not simply changing the locks and checking up on them every now and again.
However, for me, the pinnacle point of the series came in the first half-hour of the show. When the youth asked to borrow Jodie's phone because he was locked out of his flat and needed to call his brother should have set off every alarm bell on the estate. I was screaming at the television "Don't do it!" and then as the intimidation increased, it was replaced with "Get out of there!". Blimey. It was as stressful as a psychological thriller could get.
But then the more sensible part of my brain took over. Unfortunately, as the series progressed it got sillier and sillier with more questions asked than answers received. Surely the police wouldn't have let it progress as far as it did...? As you watch the series it's a question you'll have to ask yourself too. That and whether you'd come forward as a witness, and how far you'd be prepared to go...
Whilst the silliness of the plot ultimately removes any semblance of realism, Witness Number 3 still offers paranoia, suspense, tension, and drama by the bucket load. And if that's not enough to make you curious, nothing will.
- Behind the Scenes Interviews with the Cast and Crew
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