Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hunted: Kismet (1.4)

You know what Hunted has suddenly reminded me of? The short-lived AMC thriller Rubicon, another sleepy serialized drama full of shady operatives, muted color palettes and slow plotting. Hunted resembles it enough already on a superficial level, in particular the vagueness of the private intelligence firm at the center of things and the so-subtle-it's-nearly-unbearable pacing. But the introduction of economic terrorism to the Turner saga, in which the family earn millions in stock market shares on the immediate heels of some kind of explosive disaster, brought to mind that this is operating like a kind of low-budget remake, only with wonky acting and ridiculous goofery instead of smart, sophisticated writing.

I wasn't even a huge fan of Rubicon, but I remember liking it a lot more in retrospect, the season eventually coming together as a 'thing' once we actually discovered where it was all headed. I'm hoping Hunted will follow a similar trajectory, coasting on ambiguity for a while before settling down in an absorbing middleground. It's certainly got that intriguingly-watchable vibe to it, though. Just as Rubicon kept you alert and focused despite so little actually happening, Hunted is equally distracting. It's still failing to become great television, but remains striking as a series all the same.

Sam spends a lot of Kismet playing catch-up, in hot pursuit of a situation that she risks losing track of. We feel you, girl. Kismet itself is a software device responsible for the aforementioned economic terror thing, forcing Sam and Aidan to use all their kicky spy skills to unearth Jack Turner's latest plans to get hold of the millions he needs to successfully gain control of the Khyber dam. Cue explosions and high-wire dangling and so forth.

This was pretty slow on the spy front, full of moments of insanity that struggled to make a whole lot of sense: the easy-access to Kismet's past run of disasters and the subsequent upticks in company profits, Sam's faux-seduction of one of Turner's men, and the way Sam constantly risks exposure within the Turner family yet experiences little to no retribution. At least the show tried to make up for that last one, the writers bringing back creepy eyeball dude to dispatch Sam just as I was asking why Patrick Malahide's crime daddy hasn't decided to just take her out already.

So, yeah, Kismet is sort of a step down from last week's mild improvement in quality. But that shading is still there, buried beneath all the showy espionage plotholes and self-serious hooey of Sam's undercover gig. Simon Turner is becoming a tragic figure of sorts, fascinating enough to keep you awake during the criminal scenes; Sam's team are gradually turning into real people with something close to personalities (though the wheelchair-guy sex scene was a little jarring in its incongruity), and Aidan is becoming less of a cipher. The major criminal arc still lacks that momentum, but the characters are at least becoming more fun to watch every week. B-

Smita Bhide Director James Strong

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