DAVID BIANCULLI

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The Return of 'Strike Back' to Cinemax
February 2, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 

One of television’s most successful gender diversity initiatives has entailed letting women in on the fun of noisy violence, so it’s only fitting that Cinemax’s revived Strike Back no longer looks like a boys club.

Strike Back returns, it’s safe to say by popular demand, at 10 p.m. ET Friday. And no, this 10-episode sixth season does not reunite one of TV’s most testosterone-driven buddy teams ever, Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton.

But the Strike Back team is still saving the world from terrorists by blowing up cars and buildings and mowing down waves of bad guys in endless hails of bullets.

It also still has an odd-couple mix-and-match male buddy team, this time with Sgt. Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson, right), a deep-cover U.S. Army operative, and Sgt. Thomas "Mac" McAllister (Warren Brown, right), a British anti-terrorism fighter whose whole squad was recently wiped out in a terrorist ambush.

Perhaps in homage to the original team, Wyatt loves the thrill of danger almost as much as he loves romancing every woman within 50 clicks, while McAllister is more a brooder haunted by the deaths of so many friends.

This time, though, they’re just half of a core quartet, which also includes Captain Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee, below), a British officer who’s sultry enough to go undercover as an escort, and Lance Cpl. Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata, below), an Australian who yields nothing to the guys in street toughness.

Initially, they don’t all quite trust each other, especially the two guys, who are both alpha males. Once they all find a common external enemy, however, they redirect their focus there – and enemies are easy to find when you’re stationed in the middle of war-torn Libya.

The return episode of Strike Back does take time to parse the combatants. Fighters who are nominally on the same side, or at least share a common goal, often find that some of their interests don’t line up. Good guys don’t get everything right.

The show gives us humanizing glimpses of terrorist cell leader Omair Idrisi (Don Hany) and his British-born wife Jane (Katherine Kelly). It also allows that there will always be unrest somewhere, so “victory” becomes a relative term.

All that said, our team seems to routinely defeat much larger forces of swarthy opponents, many of whom are bad shots with the inadvisable habit of rushing out into open spaces during firefights.

In the general sweep, this edition of Strike Back wisely stays true to its predecessor by spending less time on the many layers and nuances of culture-driven geopolitical warfare than on old-fashioned them-or-us showdowns. Behind the scenes, they employ the latest intelligence tech, but at the end of the day it comes down to outgunning the other side. Or blowing them up.  

At a time when TV offers a steady stream of intense dramas like Homeland that stress the grey areas in the “war on terror,” Strike Back remains a bit of a throwback.

Its unspoken premise holds that whatever the nuances, war must be fought to prevent something potentially far more catastrophic than we have seen to date.

That makes it compelling late-night action drama, and just as Winchester and Stapleton left their stamp, the new team could easily do the same.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Good News!!!!
Jun 1, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
 
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