Apple TV+ | Episodes: 6 | Rated: TV-MA
Developed By: Dennis Lehane
Starring: Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Ray Liotta, Greg Kinnear, Sepideh Moafi
Synopsis: When a drug dealer is sentenced to a 10-year stint in prison he is given the offer of a commuted sentence if he agrees to be transferred to a maximum-security prison to coerce a confession from a serial killer in an attempt to locate the bodies of several young girls.
There are many factors working in the favor of Black Bird. The ‘based on true’ events plot is loaded with emotional searing layering that can easily consume your attention throughout its tightly paced six-episode duration. The length was perfect to me. It was long enough to explore the characters with enough depth. While also effectively unraveling the mystery of this killer and the man sent in to be his bestie, without the lulls of added episodes that can often result in a lack of forward progression. Every minute of this series matters, and it results in complete captivation.
Taron Egerton and Paul Walker Hauser are phenomenal. It’s always a treat to see two actors completely consuming their roles and when they are on screen together, their ability to command every millisecond is profound. Their rapport is awkward and uncomfortable but authentic for the situation. And throughout the evolution of this manufactured friendship, you can see and feel the toll it is taking on them both. It’s intriguing to see Egerton’s Jimmy Keene, a man accustomed to being in control of every situation slowly crumble under the oppressive sinister atmosphere that Hauser delivers as the unassumingly sadistic Larry Hill. Hauser is haunting in this role and captures the intricate layering of this character’s mental state with an elegance that gives this series the impact it needed.
To me, Black Bird is a series that gets started quickly with an interesting premise and as it proceeds you get to know these characters and connect with them to grow your own feeling for them. You can feel empathy for Jimmy as his mental state deteriorates in a prison that delivers no hope. A prison Larry Hill feels quite comfortable in. The methodical cat-and-mouse development of their friendship is compelling. Seeing the determination in Jimmy grow as outside influences and getting more inside of Hill’s mind present constant hurdles. All of which had me clued in from start-to-finish.
The supporting cast is small but effective. The late Ray Liotta delivers an endearing performance as Jimmy’s father, and you can’t help but find your heart pulled into his broken character knowing this is his final performance. With the always capable Greg Kinnear pairing nicely with Sepideh Moafi to round out the headliners as the law enforcement angle of the plot. Kinnear and Moafi working the case, as procedural as it may be, both are still able to appeal with their natural timing and their own personality traits they infuse their roles with.
Final Verdict: Black Bird is a riveting series that works multiple timelines with a nice smooth flow to create a highly engaging viewing experience. You can easily find your curiosity instantly piqued from the plot of this man entering a maximum-security prison to try and do some good in his life. From there the dynamics of the characters peel back like the layers of an onion giving you more and more each episode as it builds to a very satisfying conclusion that is as dramatically gripping as you could hope.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.