Better Late Than Never: Strike Back: Project Dawn

Kicking off this new series of reviews (Better Late Than Never) I’m starting with the latest season of Strike Back–a British-American television series newly hosted by Cinemax which pits Section 20–a covert branch of the British MI6–against a global terrorist known only as Latif (Jimi Mistry).

The Season Two cover of the Strike Back Blu-Ray.

This season starts with Section 20 on the tail of the notorious Latif, and their captured undercover operative John Porter (Richard Armitage), in a race against time to save their comrade. In their quest they enlist Porter’s former partner, and former Delta Force Operator, Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) to aide the ex-Special Boat Service (SBS) Sergeant Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Captain Kate Marshall (Eva Birthistle) in finding and identifying Latif after their original mission concludes in failure after the execution of Porter over a live video feed. With a wish for revenge and a need to save the world from the terror of Latif and his mysterious Project Dawn; Section 20 with Colonel Eleanor Grant–played by the ball busting Amanda Mealing–scour the world in exotic locals such as India, South Africa, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Budapest, Hungary.

This season is remarkably short for all of the action-packed power and performance that enthralls you despite the moderately shallow dialogue. Violence isn’t the only thing this show delivers as one of the leading men, Damian Scott, is a roving sex addict to the mimicking of an American James Bond. However, in the ten episode season they do manage to pack a clearly centralized storyline into the realm of spies and international intrigue.

Their mission does not come without costs. During the course of events they lose a handful of agents including Captain Marshall, but overall the plethora of terrorists that the two ex-special forces men dispatch are without equal and are almost out of the realm of possibility if it were not from the excellent use of real life tactics and maneuvers. The character of Scott was obviously cast to be a daring and careless rogue to the tune of a Han Solo or John Rambo. Often rushing into situations without careful thinking has cased more than a few problems for his counterpart in Stonebridge, but the Sergeant’s calm and cool demeanor has allowed him to swoop in and save the day multiple times, often in the same episode!

On the other end of the radio are the intel and analysis wing of Section 20. Starting with the Colonel’s second in command–Major Oliver Sinclair (Rhashan Stone) and going down to Sergeant Julia Richmond (Michelle Lukes)–is an integral part of the show’s screen time. Code-breaking, satellite surveillance, and identifying targets are just a few of the responsibilities tasked to this marvelous secret agency. Suspicion and treachery lie in the ranks of Section 20 and insubordination came to a head before being easily dealt with in what seemed to be a quick fix for a problem that could’ve lasted for another season.

If asked for one word to describe this season of Strike Back; I would have to use: Rushed. This show has the promise, but not the budget to last a season that’s on par with most basic cable television shows, and even being on a premium cable network can’t help it enough to last for too much longer in an American market. That is a sad point indeed as I feel that its generally exaggerated characters are a breath of fresh air to all of the stoic seriousness of series such as 24 and even Burn Notice. In my opinion, in order to improve the ratings and viewers, is to move it to a different time slot for Spartacus and add more than ten episodes to a season. This show has all the potential to be a great spy/military thriller, but seemingly little opportunity to prosper.

Rating: 3.8/5

Stay tuned to Cinemax on 17 August 2012 for the continuation of Strike Back in Strike Back: Vengeance (Also known as Season 3 in US)!

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