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'Trackers,' the South African Hit Thriller, Arrives on Cinemax
June 5, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

Cinemax tosses another shovelful of red meat to action-TV fans with Trackers, a South African series that launches Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

In the tradition of the recently concluded Strike BackTrackers keeps the bad guys coming and the testosterone flowing in this six-episode series, set in South Africa and co-produced by Cinemax with South African and German networks.

So as not to raise expectations too high, full disclosure here: Trackers seems to have less explicit violence than Strike Back. Of course, so did half the wars of the 20th century.

Trackers starts with a couple of seemingly diverse stories that have slowly begun intersecting by the end of the first episode.

The apparent main story has South African intelligence, under the tough but reliable Janina Mentz (Sandi Schultz), trying to track down a cadre of bad guys – a probably terrorists – who are trying to smuggle some unknown item into South Africa.

Her point person on the ground seems to be Quinn Makebe (Thapelo Mokoena, top), an expert intelligence officer who is also high enough in the ranks to be a rival for Janina’s job.

Since she apparently is trying to atone for some recent mistake, her position could be in play. Quinn seems more focused on the bad guys than office politics, however, which makes for more action in the story.

The radical Islamic group behind the bad guys, which seems to be tied to Al Qaeda, has a whole protocol of religious rituals they follow before they get down to business and become familiar terrorist thugs. At first, we don’t know any more than South African intelligence about their plans, which may lead to some surprises when we get our first solid clue.

Meanwhile, we’re also seeing what, at first, seem like two incidental stories that soon start creeping toward the center.

The first involves Lemmer (James Gracie), one of those ultra-competent nice guys who can do any job, dirty or clean, but at the moment is dealing poorly with some psychological blockage that leaves him restlessly lurking around the outskirts of life.

Then there’s a woman named Milla Strachan (Rolanda Marais). When we meet her, she is about to pack a small suitcase, drop a note on her teenage son’s pillow, hop into the car and leave her husband of 20 years to try to cobble together a new life.

She’s clearly smart and even more clearly desperate, largely about how she can start from nothing at the age of 40. Not surprisingly, she gets little sympathy from her son and nothing except threats from her husband, which goes a long way toward explaining why she left him in the first place.

Just when everything is going even more wrong, Milla lands a job as a low-level worker bee for a company that manually tracks potentially suspicious activities.

You may, at this point, guess where this could be going.

Trackers, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Deon Meyer and adapted for television by Robert Thorogood, sets this story against the backdrop of all the intrigue we associate with South Africa, from the lingering cancer of apartheid to precious gem and wildlife smuggling.

If it doesn’t blow things up every 10 minutes, it’s a solid thriller, with high stakes, flawed good guys, and really nasty bad guys. It’s also a visual pleasure, thanks to the stark beauty of the landscape and the graphic contrasts between rich and poor life in South Africa.

It definitely keeps Cinemax in the late-night action-drama game.

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Because I missed the info about Trackers starting at 10pm and I had just signed up for a free trial for Cinemax earlier in the day I decided to try another show they offer titled, Rellik. Half way through the first episode I forgot all about, Trackers a show I was very much looking forward to because I love shows that take place in far away countries.
But the cinematography, the characters, and the way with which the Rellik story is being told is superb. I watch a lot of TV and I'm only three episodes in but I just had to do a shout out for it because to me, Rellik is very much worth a recommendation.
Jun 7, 2020   |  Reply
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