The Night Agent can be entertaining but ultimately is a trite and diluted attempt at a genre that keeps getting recycled year after year.
Produced by Shawn Ryan, we review the Netflix series The Night Agent Season 1, which does not contain spoilers.
The Night Agent is a throwback to early 21st-century serialized action thrillers. The ones with season-long running plots, strategically placed reveals, and innocent characters always on the run. What separates shows like this are the subtle plot points and character decisions in writing. Those can range from bright to dumb, even thoughtful to lazy. This Shawn Ryan-produced series for Netflix is a bit corny and entertaining, but some decisions are so thoughtless they can be distracting.
The Night Agent Season 1 Review and Plot Summary
The Night Agent is based on the Michael Quirk stand-alone novel of the same name. The story follows an agent of the FBI named Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso).
The young agent is taking a leisurely ride on a subway train. Always respectful, he gives up his seat to a mother and her small child. While standing, he sees an ominously dressed figure who places a bag underneath a chair and leaves.
Peter’s protective radar is up. He approaches the bag and finds a bomb. Peter stops the train, evacuates the passengers, and prevents a significant disaster, limiting the number of casualties. While receiving treatment from an EMT, he sees the bomber, chases him, and gets away. But not before he sees a large snake tattoo on his body that could identify him.
Months go by, and Peter is now the Night Agent—a position to which the White House Chief of Staff Diane Farr (Hong Chau) appoints him.
Most of the time, he reviews files, but on this night, he receives a call from the frantic niece of two agents, Rose (Luciane Buchanan). Someone has attacked her family’s home, and Peter manages to talk her through a dangerous situation to safety.
Farr assigns Peter to be her protective detail and then to go off the grid to protect her. Next is a perilous web of conspiracies that could reach the highest levels of the United States government.
Quirk’s popcorn novel, by comparison, is quite different from this Ryan series. For one, the book has the Rose character being a target of her family, where here they are are the haunting memory that drives her to solve the case. Where Russia plays a significant role in the book, that country is all but gone from the series, now replaced with either generic, evergreen “foreign agents” or everyone’s favorite film or television villain, alluding to a terrorist from the Middle East. (Remember, Hollywood will avoid major European or Asian country controversies to sell their product).
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This is brought up because the changes seem to have diluted the product. You’ll notice some changes feel clunky and do not transition well. Instead of having a spy thriller that could be modern and feel fresh, the result can lean towards hackneyed.
We have seen this a thousand times before regarding conspiracy thrillers. You can guess where it is going but still enjoy strategic reveals. You can even enjoy the moments, but looking back, the series can feel cheap and artificial.
For some reason, the lead characters take forever to go through a hard drive that can put the series to bed in less than three episodes. For a thriller set in the world of spycraft and top-flight technology, people can operate within the White House walls without primary security cameras or security checks and balances.
Those can even range from the personal, where the series’ worst villain is so over-the-top. The subplot involving them and a death of a child would never be blamed on the child, but the guardian. Trust me; you’ll get what I am talking about when you see it.
In one laughable scene, a character sneaks two operatives onto Camp David without so much of a security check where the two are hiding in the trunk. As someone who once stayed at a small town Holiday Inn where the President was staying years ago, I’ll tell you, you couldn’t drive past a checkpoint set up without agents going through your car and your bags that took no less than 60 minutes. How on earth would this happen at one of the country’s most well-known and heavily guarded sites?
READ: Recap – what happened in The Night Agent Season 1? (Episodes 1-10)
Also, the urgency of the Secret Service protecting the President is widely uneven. Think of some great scenes, like In the Line of Fire, where POTUS has rushed away.
Here, one of the leaders of the free world’s life is in danger; a few scenes have her taken away like a brisk walk in the park when a significant occurrence happens. Even the subplot of Peter’s father being a known traitor doesn’t ring true because Peter’s face will be so well known even before the series begins he could never work undercover in the first place.
I don’t want to be too hard on The Night Agent. After all, it’s entertainment. I’m sure some critics will hold Hillbilly Elegy against Basso, but I found his respectful, stoic action turn as an agent on the run compelling.
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Chau’s charged-up defiant bluntness for anyone in her way is entertaining, if not a bit comical. And while I chalk about Buchanan’s struggles to be miscast, the writing does her no favors in a thankless role.
Is The Night Agent season 1 good?
The Night Agent will entertain some at first. However, this is a trite attempt at a defunct television genre that keeps getting recycled yearly.
What did you think of The Night Agent Season 1? Comment below.
1 thought on “The Night Agent Season 1 Review – an unoriginal thriller”
If anything, I think you were too easy on it. Some of the dialogue (meant to humanize the characters) is laugh out loud cheesy.