Black Bird season 1 review – slick crime drama that keeps you guessing

June 30, 2022
Adam Lock 0
Apple TV+, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
4

Summary

Your standard prison drama is elevated by an impressive Hollywood cast and a top-quality, unpredictable script. Another triumph for Apple TV+.

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4

Summary

Your standard prison drama is elevated by an impressive Hollywood cast and a top-quality, unpredictable script. Another triumph for Apple TV+.

This review of the Apple TV+ series Black Bird season 1 does not contain any major spoilers. The series premiere on July 8, 2022. 

Series developer and writer Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island) has gathered one hell of an ensemble for this stunning Apple TV+ crime series, debuting this July on the streaming platform. Taron Egerton (Rocketman) leads this all-star cast as an egotistical drug dealer looking to shorten his prison sentence when an enticing opportunity comes his way. He must transfer to a maximum-security prison for the criminally insane and befriend a serial killer no less, in order to gain a crucial confession from the supposed murderer, played by a whispery Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell). This appealing premise makes for a fascinating watch as the show-runners tease the possibility that this creep may walk free at any moment or might not have even committed the atrocious acts he has confessed to in the first place.

Charming drug dealer Jimmy Keene (Egerton) is our man on the inside, charged with a lengthy imprisonment due to an FBI raid, where they seized a Pablo Escobar-sized haul of drugs, cash, and weaponry from his lavish abode. This likeable criminal seems to thrive on the inside, but is still desperate for an out. His salvation comes in the form of a bittersweet offering that Jimmy is at first reluctant to accept. He must pass a grueling interview process and learn to empathize with this psychopath before he’s able to transfer and meet him.

Jimmy is given the serial killer, Larry Hall’s file and starts to do his homework, reading up on the murderer. This works as a seamless segue into the investigation itself, with detective Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear) and FBI agent Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi) on the case. Larry is renowned in the Indiana area for being a serial confessor, someone who has a habit of admitting to criminal acts just for the sheer attention. Brian suspects otherwise though and manages to elicit a detailed confession from Larry, but was he provoked? The writers do an impressive job of keeping this conundrum at the forefront of the viewer’s mind, with clues pointing in both directions. The FBI believe he may have killed up to fourteen girls, and yet they only have the one body to go on. They need Larry to provide the locations of the others and that’s where Jimmy comes in.

The show splits its narrative between the prison antics Jimmy endures and the detective’s fruitless investigation on the outside, with a haunting score provided by Scottish rock band Mogwai simmering in the background. This is an expertly made drama, with slick camera work and an accompanying authentic gritty edge. The acting is superb and it’s hard to single out just one performer, but Ray Liotta, in one of his final performances, really sticks in the memory. He plays a fragile and regretful man with experience and aplomb. The other Hollywood A-listers bring their usual panache to round things out. Black Bird is another triumph for Apple TV+, whose USP now seems to be top-quality dramas featuring cinema’s finest stars.

What did you think of the Apple TV+ series Black Bird season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Apple TV+. 

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