Streaming. An engrossing new crime thriller-meets-coming-of-age drama set at the turn of the millennium from the maestro of midtown mayhem, Michael Mann? Yes please! “Tokyo Vice”, HBO Max’s latest original series (and they’re doing some real ‘goodies’ now and quite frequently), features a divine pilot episode helmed by the “Heat” and “Manhunter” director – complete with the kind of action-packed thrills, well-choreographed action, and slick direction we expect from a ‘Mann movie’. Based on the life of American journalist Jake Adelstein, as he attempted to take down the Yuzka in late ‘90s Tokyo, it’s a gritty, very interesting fish-out-of-water tale the likes of which we haven’t seen before.
Sadly, episode 2 loses that ‘must see television’ stamp when Mann moves behind that obligatory EP credit and hands over the reins to lesser-skilled hands. While still interesting, a show that started out super compelling, and with some top tier performances in tow, now starts to resemble a “Law & Order” spin-off. Still, “Tokyo Vice” is quality television – and you can’t say that for everything that hits the EPG these days. [CC]
Streaming. When you see those names on the credit block, markedly Sean Penn and Julia Roberts, you know there’s a chance of this one earning a place on your ‘religiously watch’ list. “Gaslit”, with its award-worthy performances, jaw-dropping make-up (Penn, unrecognizable here, looking more Philip Bosco than his usual, handsome grizzled character actor meets matinée idol self), and tense storytelling, is indubitably one of the year’s best small-screen offerings. Fixing on Nixon’s ruthless, well-organized, and suggestively bent brethren, those same chaps involved in the Watergate scandal, Leon Neyfakh’s political drama – streaming on Stan and Starz – serves up an educational and electrifying spotlight on the byzantine marriage of lead Nixon devotee Attorney General John Mitchell (Sean Penn) and his slightly more moralistic wife Martha (Julia Roberts), the first to blow the lid on Nixon’s shonky shenanigans. Definitely one to set the DVR for. [CC]
All The Old Knives
Amazon Prime. Classic Hitchcock meets the imaginative quirks of Rian Johnson and David Mamet in a surprising thriller from spy writer vet Olen Steinhauer that, ostensibly, came out of nowhere. Amazon Prime’s “All The Old Knives” stars Chris Pine – in one of his most impressive turns to date – as a veteran operative who, following the CIA’s discovery that an agent leaked info on an operation that cost more than 100 people their lives, is assigned the mission of rooting out the mole. He begins with his former squeeze and CIA partner Celia Harrison, dexterously played by the always steady Thandiwe Newton. Though featuring small supporting turns from the likes of Laurence Fishburne and Jonathan Pryce, “All the Old Knives” is predominantly a two-hander, set in the one location, that relies largely on clever dialogue, smart plotting, and a surprising twist to draw viewers in. It succeeds. [CC]