Monday, April 24, 2017

Pilot Review: Guerrilla

Guerrilla (Showtime)
Premiered April 16 at 10pm

There’s something about a revolution, especially one that’s already happened, that can be inspirational all on its own. Such historical events make for great cinema, whether on the big screen or the small screen, and even if the dialogue or the specific details of the story aren’t superb, it’s already starting off from a solid vantage point because of the infectious nature of fighting for social justice. This show is a joint production between Sky Atlantic in the UK and Showtime here in the United States, with each episode airing just a few days earlier across the ocean. This is very much a British story, covering the British black power movement, and that may actually be more intriguing to Americans who already have some institutional knowledge of the history of civil rights in the United States. The first half of this pilot episode wasted no time in tackling police brutality based not only on racism but also nationalism, with a white Irish woman earning a beating for standing up to cops, and the awful murder of a protester specifically commanded by the police. The second half took a different turn with the focus of breaking out a prisoner, something that’s more suspense- and drama-based rather than having to do with political uprising, more with the lengths people have to go to, like eating glass and dealing with the implications of irreversible illegal acts. There are a few familiar faces in this cast, starting with Idris Elba, who has done plenty in the United States, most notably “The Wire” and his award-winning turn in “Beasts of No Nation,” and Freida Pinto broke out on the international scene with “Slumdog Millionaire.” This drama has a lot to say about politics, race, and the way that actions cause reactions. It’s decent but also somewhat flawed in its presentation, and I think this was an effective enough of a sample for me.

How will it work as a series? This first episode confirmed that, once you’re in it, you’re in it, and that’s what Pinto’s Jas is beginning to accept and own. The remaining five episodes are likely to be full of drama and political commentary, driven by these characters, who are decent but not spectacular.
How long will it last? It’s all the rage these days for miniseries or event series that are meant to last just one season to be renewed, especially when they’re co-produced by networks from different countries. The reviews are pretty strong, so it’s very possible that will happen here. I think the initial order is probably all it will get, but who knows?

Pilot grade: B