The Veil review: A compelling Elisabeth Moss in spy games thriller

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Elisabeth Moss in The Veil
Elisabeth Moss in The Veil Credit: Disney/FX

When The West Wing premiered in late 1999, Elisabeth Moss was far from the most famous of its ensemble cast (that honour would go to Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe), but in the quarter-century since, she is arguably one of two (the other being Allison Janney) of its most successful alums.

Across its seven seasons, Moss appeared in 25 episodes as Zoey Bartlet, the fictional president’s youngest daughter, contending with a sweet but complicated onscreen romance and a kidnapping storyline.

It was Mad Men and her memorable turn as the ambitious, sometimes prickly Peggy Olsen that cemented Moss’s place in the A-list, and she became one of those actors whose new projects were always worthy of at least a toe-dip.

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The idea is that if Moss was lending her time and talent to something, then there must be something there.

That bodes well for The Veil, a six-part miniseries in which she stars as a British MI6 agent whose name is not really Imogen Salter (“I would like my name to be Imogen,” she says in the series’ first scene).

Imogen appears on the scene at a refugee camp on the border of Turkey and Syria, where a French woman, Adilah (Yumna Marwan), is nearly killed by the other women who peg her as a top ISIS commander, one of the terrorist organisation’s few female leaders, responsible for the brutal deaths of their husbands and children.

Elisabeth Moss in The Veil
Elisabeth Moss is also credited as a producer on The Veil. Credit: Disney/FX

Imogen tells Adilah she can help her stay alive and we discover the agent is on a mission for French intelligence who wants the suspected terrorist extracted before the Americans can. As with almost every fictional spy story, Western allies have very little trust in each other.

The CIA is embodied in the form of Max (a miscast Josh Charles), a blustery and demanding spy who arrives in Paris without any finesse and immediately takes over the operation. But Imogen, on loan to the French, does things her own way as she and Adilah thread their way to Istanbul, dodging checkpoints, securing false papers and trying to discover who each other really is.

That’s the crux of The Veil, a mental cat-and-mouse game between two formidable opponents whose identities are hidden even from the audience. We know neither of them are named Imogen nor Adilah but that’s all we know.

Is Adilah an ISIS commander, a confused woman or someone else entirely? Is Imogen, whose past traumas we see in blurry flashbacks, a straightforward agent or is there something else going on? There’s also the threat of what the CIA suspects is a planned attack in 10 days’ time.

The Veil is rote in terms of a spy thriller, we’ve seen most of these beats before, but what keeps it distinct is the onscreen chemistry between Moss and Marwan. There is distrust and danger, and lies and half-truths, a charged vibe deftly captured by Australian director Daina Reid, who helms the first three episodes.

But is it enough to sustain your interest for six episodes? Maybe only for the hardcore Moss groupie because she really is, as always, so compelling to watch.

The Veil is streaming on Disney+


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The front page of The Nightly for 21-05-2024

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