Banshee Review: A Ludicrous Series, and It Knows It

The new Cinemax series Banshee, which debuts tonight, is so plot-driven, so utterly dependent on "I can’t believe they did that!" twists, that I’m reluctant to describe any part of it in this opening paragraph. So I’ll just say that while it’s emphatically not a great show, it is an overheated yet intriguing one, driven more by visuals than words — and if you don’t mind that its gory action and soap-opera plots aren’t yet matched by dialogue and performance, it’s worth a look.

The story starts with our hero (Antony Starr) — who remains nameless and nearly silent throughout the pilot’s first half, though his name is Lucas Hood — being released from prison. We eventually get hints of what he was in for, but we don’t yet know what drives him — only that he has managed to elude mysterious assassins in a high-speed chase through New York City and then sped off on a stolen motorcycle toward Banshee, Pennsylvania, which feels like a mythical small town in an old Western. Banshee is a corrupt, fearful place ruled by a crime boss named Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), whose fingers are in everyone’s pie. (An intriguing wrinkle: Banshee is located in Amish country, and Kai was formerly part of the sect and takes great offense when some local bullies harass his elderly dad.) The local sheriff’s department, which includes a deputy played by Matt Servitto of The Sopranos, wants to clean the place up, so they’ve hired a new sheriff. Unfortunately, almost immediately after arriving in town, the poor bastard gets killed in a bar fight in the presence of our hero. What’s a strong, silent, merciless ex-con to do but call his forger buddy Job (Boon Lee) to hack into databases and substitute his picture for the dead man’s, put on his uniform and badge and start fighting evil? Read More...


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