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Why you need to watch Jamie Dornan in ‘The Tourist’

The opening sequence of “The Tourist” bears a striking resemblance to “Duel,” the 1971 ABC TV movie starring Dennis Weaver as a businessman terrorized by a tanker truck chasing him through the Mojave Desert — and trying to kill him for reasons unknown. But that’s where the similarities end. A few minutes into “The Tourist,” a six-episode series premiering Tuesday (March 1) on HBO Max, a British man (Jamie Dornan) engages in a high-speed game of cat-and-mouse with a trucker in the Australian Outback. The big rig runs his car off the road and nearly kills him, and he wakes up in a remote hospital with no idea who he is our how he got there. That sets the wheels (pun intended) in motion for “The Tourist,” as The Man, as he’s called — his real identity is disclosed in the final minutes of Episode 2 — tries to piece together his history, starting with a scrap of paper he finds in his pocket that leads him to a far-flung diner, an explosion there that’s meant to kill him, an ex-girlfriend, Luci Miller (Shalom Brune-Franklin), he doesn’t remember — but who has her own reasons for helping him — and a man who’s buried alive in an underground oil drum to whom The Man is somehow connected. There are a lot of moving parts here, with gears that mesh smoothly. “The Tourist” starts with that bang and doesn’t let up and, in another departure from “Duel,” it has its share of low-key humor and quirky characters. There’s the probationary law officer, Helen Chambers (Danielle Macdonald), working her first case, who’s getting married in nine weeks to Ethan Krum (Greg Larsen) and is trying to lose weight and not “love the lard” as society tells her; the truck driver, a burly, bearded American named Billy Nixon (Ólafour Darris Ólaffson); and DI Lachlan Rogers (Damon Herriman, “Mindhunter,” “Perpetual Grace, Ltd.”), who’s sent by major crimes to investigate — and has health issues of which I won’t go into here. Each hour-long episode ends with a big reveal leading directly into the next installment, which keeps the action going at a nice clip as the mystery slowly starts to unwind and we learn more about The Man — who is not as innocent as he appears to be … if only he could remember why. The series has a first-rate pedigree — it was written by Jack and Harry Williams (“The Missing,” “Baptiste,” “Liar”), and co-star Shalom Brune-Franklin will be familiar to fans of the BBC’s “Line of Duty” as DC Chloe Bishop (Season 6). Dornan, of course, needs no introduction. “The Tourist,” which premiered in January on BBC One and in Australia on Stan, was shot on location in various regions of the continent (including Adelaide and the South Australian town of Peterborough) and you can almost feel the Outback desert grit and dust getting into your clothes. It’s a ride down a winding road that’s worth your time.

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