This summer’s hot blockbuster action movie has finally arrived. However, instead of catching this film in theaters you can catch it on Cinemax. And, by the way, it’s an original TV series and not a movie.
Cinemax’s new series Strike Back is an explosive action drama that harkens back to the days of 24 and The Unit. Instead of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) saving the world in 24 hours or a group of soldiers under the leadership of Snake Doc (Dennis Haysbert) attacking the mission of the week, this series focuses on a secret British Military Intelligence Unit called Section 20. This show is about hunting down terrorists, keeping the world safe, and giving viewers an hour each week of adrenaline. There’s also a touch of conspiracy shrouding Section 20.
The series uses familiar archetypes. Camelot’s Philip Winchester stars as Stonebridge, the clean-cut soldier who likes to stick to the rules. Animal Kingdom star Sullivan Stapleton plays Damien Scott, the reluctant and brash ex-delta force soldier who fulfills the part of the rogue. He also has a vendetta for being dishonorably discharged. Also, the lead terrorist just happens to be Middle Eastern, completing the cliché for a government-run special-forces action story.
Although the series premiere relies heavily on these clichés, the archetypes are slowly broken down over the course of the first four episodes. By episode 4, viewers will really get the sense that this series is unlike any action series we’ve seen before. Why? For starters, it’s filmed more like a Bourne or James Bond tale. Instead of taking place on a studio set, much of the action is filmed on location throughout Europe and Africa. It really expands the scope of this drama, making all the action seem that more real. The International flavor and broader respect for culture, will give viewers a more reverent action series.
Like the early days of 24, the producers are not afraid to take risks. Stonebridge and Scott will be forced to suffer. Both Winchester and Stapleton get a lot of wiggle room to flex different facets of their personalities. For instance, in the first two episodes, we see an endearing side of Stapleton during a hotel hostage situation. It doesn’t take away from his machismo; it only makes you look at him as a brute with the heart of gold like X-Men’s Wolverine. But, he is also the kind of guy that will shoot again to make sure you’re dead, then shoot you once you’re dead just “because”. There are also strong secondary characters that start to work their way into the forefront of action like Colonel Grant (Amanda Mealing).
Strike Back isn’t without its fanciful moments. As a rogue, Scott just happens to be a magnet for women. It doesn’t take much for Scott to end up with his pants down, butt cheeks exposed. Still, he gets the job done. The series gives off the sex factor of a feature film without the network limitations of 24 or The Unit. There are a few predictable turns, but the actors make sure that each nuance is just as exciting as the last.
Stonebridge and Scott don’t go for the typical bromance relationship you’ll see on Hawaii Five-0 or White Collar. Each episode focuses on maintaining high stakes. If personal relationships are brought into play, it is done so while under fire. There is enough action to prevent that kind of meandering and keep these two working together with mutual respect.
Strike Back is the top new series to check out before the end of Summer. It’s International and strong character development will immediately satisfy fans of Bauer and The Unit who have been missing out on extreme TV.
Strike Back premieres on Friday, Aug 12 at 10 PM ET/PT.
8 / 10
Check out this 6-minute preview from the Strike Back Series premiere below and be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below: