Strike Back: Retribution

posted 25 Apr 2018, 05:57 by Paul Woodward

Genre: Action

Stars: Warren Brown / Daniel McPherson / Roxanne McKee / Alin Sumarwata / Katherine Kelly

Certificate: 15

Year: 2017/18

The return of Strike Back after a few years absence sees an all new cast in a revitalisation of this brilliant boys’ own action show. The end of Strike Back saw special ops unit Section 20 closed by the UK government with Scott and Stonebridge been disavowed and going underground. The new series sub titled Retribution sees Colonel Donovan reopen Section 20 on a small, mobile scale principally to track down and stop Terrorists Omair Idrisi and his equally extreme wife Jane Lowry (Katherine Kelly). Donovan assembles a ragtag team of military personal who for one reason or another are in need of a second chance. Including Wyatt (McPherson), Mac (Brown), Reynolds (McKee) and Novin (Sumarwarta) and ‘Computer guy’ Hanson. Like previous series you see varying sub plots and locations sprinkled in amongst the overall series story arc – stopping Idrisi and Lowry.

I did struggle with the first few episodes, this is mainly down to the whole new cast and a weight of expectation as I was a huge fan of Strike Back and the Scott/Stonebridge partnership. Thankfully after a few episodes the new cast grew on me and I started to get invested in them. Once I started liking the main team and I was interested in the back stories and subsequently what was happing to them during their missions, I felt the flow of the program started ramping up – so although it felt like it was a slow starter by the final scene I really didn’t want it to end. I have heard a second series with the new cast is in the works which is excellent news especially given the dramatic finale!

It both feels like Strike Back but with a new twist, the larger ground team which now consists of two women and two men changes the dynamics up, whilst retaining the cheeky banter we’ve come to expect from the show. The two female characters are brought to bad ass reality by McKee and Aussie actress Sumarwata and are as equally dangerous and skilled as their male counterparts, but not in an unrealistic way – for example you don’t see the petite Novin beating a six-foot muscle mountain in a fist fight. Although the show is professed to be set in reality and the actors train with special op’s teams to try and emulate how they carry themselves in the field. Don’t be fooled this is larger than life fiction, even if t does have one foot in reality.

It took a while to warm to the cast, Wyatt I felt was a second-rate Scott at first but as his character developed I did warm to him and aspects of his persona do differ to Scott. Stonebridge was a posh English man, Mac is more of a common man and actually comes across as a harder character, even if actor Brown lacks the screen presence of Winchester. The stunningly beautiful McKee I genuinely thought was miscast before embarking on the first episode, but she is barely recognisable persona wise to anything I’ve seen her in before. Playing the units commander Reynolds in a no nonsense, pragmatic, hard as nails fashion. My favourite character was actual my least favourite in the first couple of episodes – Novin – I found her cocky and obnoxious, but as her character developed I really warmed to her. She has a great solo fight sequence in a mid-series episode which was dramatically shot and well directed that really stands out in the whole series.

There are loads of action sequences, almost all the running time of the show is action based – the vast majority of which are highly thrilling and stylised. With varying types of directing style which help keep the action fresh. I’d say there is far less sex and nudity than previous season’s but when it does happen it is quite graphic. It may be a TV show, but no money is spared in the action sequences, stunts and explosions. The show itself has a cinematic feel, which is emphasised by some great directing touches, with how certain scenes are filmed and are presented visually. It’s good to see TV directors been as adventurous as possible as it really does add to how the show comes across and how much more enjoyable it is to be viewed.

There are some utterly dislikeable villains who you just can’t wait to see get their asses kicked –  I’d say the main antagonist is Jane Lowry, played to perfection by Katherine Kelly – utterly ruthless and with no remorse or compassion. Trevor Eve pops up as a Yank Morgan Ives and he hams up it up so bad, betwixt his caricature American accent and his overblown villainous persona you just can’t wait for him to come unstuck. Eve definitely decided to overact the shit of Ives, which works well as it intensifies the cold and calculated seriousness of extremist’s Idrisi and Lowry.

If you like a lot of action, Strike Back is the show for you. The ten episodes flyby in an almost literal bang, thrilling and exciting and above all highly entertaining.

8/10

Review by Woody

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