‘The Night Agent’ Review: A Solid Spy-Thriller with No Spice
Just a couple of weeks ago, Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, made some declarations about the world of streaming services. To summarize, we can say that having a streaming service isn’t cheap. Disney, HBO, and others have found out that investing in content is quite a hurdle, and it is quite a challenge for their pockets, especially the kind of content audiences expect from certain brands like Marvel or Star Wars. However, Netflix keeps investing in cheaper yet, effective TV series and movies to keep their monster going. The Night Agent is the latest example.
The Night Agent is a spy-thriller TV series developed by Shawn Ryan for Netflix. Ryan has been working on TV series like The Shield and S.W.A.T. He seems like the best person to be in charge of a TV series that deals with the FBI and other government agencies. The series stars Gabriel Basso, Luciane Buchanan, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Sarah Desjardins, Hong Chau, and Christopher Shyer. The series tells the story of a rundown FBI agent who gets involved in a mysterious conspiracy that could change the face of the United States of America forever.
Mastering the art of a good spy-thriller is hard, and Netflix has been trying to do it for a while. Surprisingly, The Night Agent is the most successful at executing the formula, thanks to some fine action direction and a plot that keeps things simple and twisty enough to keep you watching episode after episode. The Night Agent isn’t precisely original, and it is as bland in its visuals as it can be, and yet, it works.
Ryan and his team of writers and filmmakers have opted for a story that lacks its own identity but imitates the best of the best. There is a lot of Tom Clancy in here, and the main character could be a Clancy protagonist all through. However, it might be that this lack of personality allows the story, and the show, for that matter, to get into the comfy zone we so much want these days. We have seen stories like this one told many times before, but we keep watching them because they are entertaining.
It is well known that most people have a true aversion to starting to do or even watch new things. There is a sort of risk that most people want to avoid when it comes to dealing with these decisions. People often prefer to watch the same old movies and TV shows they know they like. The Night Agent takes advantage of this and aims to feel like all those other TV series we have seen for decades. Yes, you have to see this before and know exactly how it will end, but to know all that will make you feel secure and happy through all ten episodes.
While the story is anything but great, it moves with very good pacing. Each episode is packed with enough action, revelations, and character development to feel like things are progressing enough to make each episode a mandatory watch. By the end, the storylines have endings that feel a bit rushed, but they are a bit satisfying in their own right. Nothing here will make you go, “Wow!” but probably make you nod in approval.
Thankfully, the show has a very good cast of actors. All the performers are ready to take their roles very seriously, and the result is that the acting in the show might be one of the best things about it. All the actors struggle between being controlled and chewing the scenery. They do a bit of both during the entire season, but that kind of acting makes the story pop up. And so, things that sound or look not that interesting become quite intriguing and fun thanks to the energy the actors give to the events.
The action is also a fundamental ingredient of the genre, and here, the directors do their best job. The camera and stunt work is quite solid, and from the first episode onwards, you can tell that the people running these departments are true professionals. Again, this is not a show with the most elaborated action sequences or the best-choreographed fights, but they have energy that pushes things in the right direction. It is a good thing to have character drama, but accompany that with good action, and you made it.
However, if there is another department where the show slips a bit beside the lack of originality, it is the dialogue. Oh boy! Some lines are truly baffling, and most conversations appear to only favor the audience, with characters repeatedly explaining things they already know to themselves. It might be allowed to do things at the start to get audiences caught up with the characters and the setting, but when it keeps doing it, even in the last episodes, it feels a bit sloppy.
Ultimately, The Night Agent is a flawed TV series; it lacks its own personality, the dialogue is pretty bad, and it is bland visually. However, the actors, the pacing, and the action rise to the occasion and make the show a very enjoyable experience. There is certainly the possibility for more seasons with these characters. It would be amazing if the series could find its own way in the genre without relying so much on a style that feels very much by the numbers.