“Luke Cage” | Season 1 | Review

copy-3Grade (B+)

Netflix scores another hit with an introduction to a new, appealing character.


I just wrapped up season one of the show that broke Netflix over the weekend and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one spending a lot of Friday and Saturday staring at a loading screen wondering if I remembered to pay my internet bill. Fortunately I did, and once Netflix caught up with demand, I was able to enjoy this season and I will say Netflix scores once again with this new series. Luke Cage was a fun show, that showed high levels of quality in many areas and resulted in an introduction to a new comic-book hero deserving of mainstream awareness.

First let’s talk about the performances, from top to bottom they were pretty solid. Mike Colter in the lead was great, he felt the part of this street level hero and he did a good job of conveying his inner conflict throughout this run. He embodied the powerful hero of Luke Cage and owned the role in this season. Colter delivered the needed intimidation and inner turmoil, while still maintaining a grounded personality that made him likable not only among his neighborhood, but also as a character you can like and connect with.

Mahershala Ali and Alfre Woodard were both awesome as well. Ali was excellent as the crime boss ‘Cottonmouth’. I thought he had a nice depth to his character, he conveyed a man dealing with inner turmoil as well and the story-line did a great job of showcasing that in the first half of the season. Ali as ‘Cottonmouth’ was sinister, cunning and relentless, yet charming and his performance, and was worthy of a great comic villain.

Woodard was fantastic as well and she brought some already good material to higher levels with her performance. She effortlessly creates the persona of this powerful woman of political influence. A woman who had dreams for her neighborhood, yet was willing to turn her eye to things her cousin was doing. She was able to pull off a perfect mob-wife mentality and created a character that was not very likable, from a performance you can’t help but loved watching.

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Simone Missick was also good as the lead detective and she was more that serviceable. I thought she gave a strong effort, showed good chemistry with the rest of the cast, and was a nice strong female lead for this show much like Woodard was. I enjoyed Theo Rossi’s performance as Shades. He came across as a rather cookie cutter character initially but he brought some dimensions to it. With his eyes hidden behind the glasses it was not easy to guess his motives at times, other than knowing he was highly capable, and ever the manipulator.

Other than the performances the best thing about this series was the musical score and soundtrack. From one episode to the next the music in this series was spot on in tone and delivered a perfect blend of modern hip-hop with a 70’s vibe that felt like it came right out of the comic-book pages that served as the source material. While I did enjoy this season, I did feel the story was lacking at times. Now like I said I enjoyed it, there were many layers, great characters and settings, and the dialogue was very well written and delivered some socially relevant messages along the way with subtly.

– SPOILERS BELOW –

It just felt like it wasn’t enough to fill the season, resulting in some repetitive scenes and some moments that felt like filler between the major story points. This was a 13-episode season and I think it could have been even more compelling had it been 10-11 instead. Through the first 6-7 episodes I was completely hooked, connected with the characters, intrigued by the scenarios, and was all in on the building of the tension, then the story started to waver a bit for me.

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I did enjoy moments of Erik Harvey’s performance as ‘Diamondback’, but as a villain for this show, I enjoyed ‘Cottonmouth’ much more. It was an unpredictable twist to kill him off, and with the thought of Woodard stepping into the role it was still very interesting to watch. Now by seasons end, I know we get to that point, but the inclusion of ‘Diamondback’s’ character was fun at first, but the more screen-time he had made the less intimidating he felt and soon came across as overly cartoonish. Also the costume that he throws on at the last minute felt tacked on, and the climax in the end felt anti-climactic.

But as for a good origins story, I definitely enjoyed this one, the series does exhibit quality and the writing was a fun blend of crime-drama and comic-book story. I would have liked to see ‘Cottonmouth’ and his dynamic with Mariah develop a little more and maybe seen ‘Diamondback’ come in at the end for a second season build-up. It just felt like some of the backgrounds between the character were not revealed in a way that could have gotten the most impact.

Also the action in this season was decent but clearly took third place behind the character performances, and story-line. Maybe I am spoiled with the action in the “Daredevil” series that looks fit for the big-screen. The action in this show so far, other than a fun hallway scene with a car door, looks like something from a TV show. But with all the things this story-line creates in this first season, I cannot wait to see the second, and in my opinion it has potential to do much more with a nice foundation already built. But as it was I did enjoy this show, and I’m look forward to seeing more of Mike Colter as well as more from this mini MCU Netflix is building.



 

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