Category Archives: Thriller/Mystery

Series and/or movies that keep you on the edge of your seat. Suspense shows that ask, who done it?

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR – My rating: 9.3/10

designatedsurvivorThey’ve done it again.  The producers of 24 have come up with another hit series, Designated Survivor.  It’s every bit as exciting as 24 was.  I am having a real blast watching this new drama with a more mellow character.  No fighting, torture, jumping and running from building to building, just plain old fashion deceit, devious plots, murder, terror attacks and plenty of cover ups.  Oh, and lets not leave out brains, meaning cleverness, logic and street smarts.

Imagine all the heads of state, thrown in with some VIPs from other places meeting somewhere in Washington D.C.  Let’s say a bomb were to hit that meeting place and kill every single person there, including the President of the United State of America.  Well, that is just what happens in Designated Survivor.  That is why there is always one man left behind in case such a catastrophe should happen, thus eliminating an argument as to whom would run the country.  In this case, Tom Kirkman, (Keiter Sutherland) U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was also appointed as the “designated survivor”.  He ended up becoming the new President after the explosion claimed the lives of the President and all of his Cabinet at a State of the Union address. Needless to say, Tom was not welcomed with open arms, as no one felt he was really qualified to fill the shoes of the former President, so Tom was met with lots of resistance.  As the series moves on, we find there is something a lot more sinister going on than an explosion.  President Kirkman is under pressure to prove himself worthy, as well as resolve the ongoing problems of the country and punish the rightful terrorist of the attack on the US.  Following another unprecedented attack, the suspense is heart thumping, as we wait for the series to resume,  after the Winter break on Wednesday, March 8th.

Jason Atwood, (Malik Yoba) is the Deputy Director of the FBI who works closely with Hannah Wells, (Maggie Q) his most dedicated agent and closest friend in the FBI.  Together they are trying to unravel, what Hannah expects is a sinister plot, that may involve the newly appointed Vice President, Peter MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman).  Chuck Russink, (Jake Epstein) is an FBI technician who aids Hannah in her investigation.  President Kirkman’s wife, First Lady Alex Kirkman, (Natascha McElhone) is also an attorney, employed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Their two children Leo Kirkman, (Tanner Buchanan) and Penny Kirkman, (Mckenna Grace) have suddenly been uprooted from their everyday routines to come and live in the White house while also dealing with personal issues.  After an awkward encounter with President Kirkman,  Seth Wright (Kal Penn), who was the former speechwriter for the late president, initially harbored strong doubts about Tom Kirkman’s abilities to lead the country but quickly becomes one of his closest advisors and the White House Press Secretary.   Aaron Shore, (Adan Canto) who was the former White House Deputy Chief of Staff  became the new White House Chief of Staff and a close friend to President Kirkman along with Emily Rhodes, (Italia Ricci)  who happened to be Tom’s former Chief of Staff but is now his Special Advisor following his ascension to the presidency.  Mike Ritter, (LaMonica Garrett)  is Tom’s personal Secret Service agent, tasked with ensuring the Kirkman family’s safety in the wake of the attack.  Kimble Hookstraten, (Virginia Madsen) is a Republican Congresswoman and the designated survivor for the GOP who supports Tom’s authority while secretly harboring her own agenda. She is later elected Speaker of the House by the new Congress.

In my opinion, Designated Survivor is well done and before the winter break, it left us panting, with our minds racing and our thoughts running rampart.  The suspense in unbearable.  Reminds me of Dallas in the old days when everyone wanted to know “Who Shot JR”?  This time we want to know “Who Got Shot”?  Well I advice everyone to check it out on FOX where Designated Survivor is currently airing.

 

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WAYWARD PINES – My rating 7/10

WaywardPinesSo far I’m not impressed with Wayward Pines. It’s not the acting I have a problem with, it’s the story.I guess there hasn’t been enough episodes to connect the dots. (I’M NOT SURE ABOUT THIS, AS I AM STILL PIECING THIS TOGETHER — It seems corporation(s), who are members of this secret conspiracy, are sending chosen people to a town called Wayward Pines to either be murdered or be banished from the rest of the world.) Wayward Pines has it’s own set of rules, and everyone there is watched and monitored. A couple of the rules, that will get you killed is, never speak about the past before you arrived there and never try to leave. Sheriff Arnold Pope (Terrence Howard) is the first and last word of the law. There has only been three episodes aired and things are very mysterious. Beverly (Juliette Lewis) a bartender, is the only person currently trying to escape along with the town’s newcomer, Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon), a US Secret Service agent investigating the disappearance of two fellow agents.  Another mysterious thing is about time.  Even though a person may have only been in Wayward Pines a couple of weeks, they think think they have been there for many, many years.  I will revisit this critique again before the season ends and give my final verdict on Wayward Pines.  It may turn out to be very good, or not!

SECRETS AND LIES – My rating: 8/10

SecretAndLiesJuliette Lewis has come a long way from a wild, cold blooded killer in Natural Born Killers to conservative detective in charge of a murder investigation of a little boy, Tom Murphy (Aiden Malik) bludgeoned to death and left dead in the woods.  I couldn’t understand how Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillippe) could be blamed for the killing so I watched several episodes to determine if Secrets and Lies would end up in the 1013 file or go full steam ahead.  After 4 episodes, it’s beginning to wiggle it’s way out of harms way and into potential-ville.

A man (Ben) running his routine morning jog, discovers a little boys dead body in the woods.  He turns the body over, sees that his neighbor’s child, they call little Tommy, is dead.  He then runs home and calls 911.  Ben has 2 daughters Natalie and Abby Crawford played by Indiana Evans and Belle Shouse, respectively) and a wife, Christy Crawford (Kadee Strickland).  Eventually, Ben is suspected of the murder and soon learns someone is setting him up.  The investigation has a Columbo (Peter Falk) flavor as Detective Andrea Cornell (Juliette Lewis) makes an extraordinary amount of visits to Ben and Christy’s home.  I’m anxious to see this mini series move on.  A few profound secrets have already been revealed but if there are too many secrets, the audience will lose credibility with Secrets and Lies.  In my opinion, less is more!  The 5th and 6th episodes should be a real challenge.

DIG – My rating: 7.5/10

DIGI’m not sure where this series is headed but it has started off as a very slow thriller.  Stationed in Jerusalem, there’s an FBI Agent, Peter Connelly (Jason Isaacs) sleeping with his boss, a murder and a past involving the death of Peter’s daughter.  Anne Heche plays Lynn Monahan, an FBI official who is concerned with making her departmental protocol work while sleeping with Peter.  A couple of mysteries are thrown into the mix every chance they get.  I am perplexed over a little boy being prepped for some unknown destiny that demands his feet never touch the outside world.  I’m not sure if he’s a clone or a science project.  This is one of the mysteries of Dig.  So far, it’s just okay but appears to have a lot of potential.  The murdered girl, Archaeologist, Emma Wilson (Alison Sudol) looks like Peter’s dead daughter and everyone is worried about his state of mind regarding him working on this case.  There’s a local detective, Golan Cohen (Ori Pfeffer) also working on the case but the two have no love loss between them until they start working together for the good of the case.  Keeping secrets has ensured mistrust and even an accusation of guilt that could lead to Peter being charged with murder.  It appears Peter has discovered a conspiracy 2,000 years in the making.  Watching these 2 officials try to come together is causing Peter to humble himself, which almost makes this series worth watching.  You’ll have to check this one out to determine if it’s worthy of my 7.5 rating.  Dig currently airs on USA.

ALLEGIANCE – My rating – 9/10

AllegianceThere are several series out that deal with national and international affairs but there are none that deal on the level of Allegiance.  A couple, Katya (Hope Davis) and Mark O’Connor (Scott Cohen) are retired Russian spies or as the pilot suggest, current sleeper cells.  The O’Connor’s have 3 children, Natalie (Margarita Levieva),  Alex (Gavin Stenhouse) and Sarah (Alexandra Peters).  Sarah is also a Russian Sleeper Cell but her brother, Alex is a gifted CIA analyst who is assigned to a joint FBI/CIA investigation into a SVR plot to destroy critical infrastructure within the United States.  Their younger sister, Sarah, has no clue as to the whole spy endeavor.  Alex also has no clue about his sister, Natalie, or his parents true lifestyle.  In fact Katya is the only family member originally from Russia.  She recruited her husband and daughter.  Katya and her husband have no desire to spy or carry out any Russian task but are being threatened by the SVR ( Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki (Russian Foreign Intelligence Service; post cold war intelligence service).  As an alternative to recruiting their son, Alex, who is “unrecruitable”, the O’Connors have agreed to spy on their son, giving the SVR access and information that will keep them several steps ahead of the FBI and CIA during their investigations regarding their (Russia’s) plot against the US.  Allegiance is very well written and very informative.  I find the series intelligent, entertaining and suspenseful.  I think it’s going to be around for a while.  Allegiance airs on NBC — check it out!

Obviously, I really liked this series, however, I just found out it’s been cancelled after 5 episodes.

THE MISSING – My rating: 8.5/10

TheMissingWhen I first encountered this series I thought the Missing would be about the Rapture like “Left Behind” or “The Leftovers”.  To my surprise, The Missing is about a 5 year old boy they call Oliver (Oliver Hunt), who suddenly disappears from his father’s sight.  The entire set up is done so well it caught and held my attention immediately.  A couple on vacation with their 5 year old son in Paris were having the time of their lives when Tony Hughes played by James Nesbitt took his son swimming in a local pool.  After drying off, Tony and his son Oliver went to get something to drink from the local, semi-quasi out-door pub.  Because the soccer championship playoffs were in full swing, massive crowds were gathered anywhere a TV was on.  Europeans are very passionate about soccer.  There was barely standing room in the pub.  The moment Tony let go of his son’s hand, Oliver disappeared.  It happened so quickly, I couldn’t reconcile the boy’s complete disappearance with the time line.  Frantic, Tony tried to find his son to no avail.  This mini series picks up 8 years later with Tony and Emily divorced but Tony is still looking for his son.  After finding new clues, the case was reopened.   By the second episode, foul play is revealed to us and wella, a mystery is born.   The Missing is a thriller and is very entertaining.  Frances O’Connor plays the x-wife Emily Hughes and mother of the missing boy.  She remarried to one of the detectives on her son’s case, Mark Welsh (Jason Flemyng).  In the end, all is revealed with the help of the lead detective Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo) and Khald Ziane (Said Taghmaoui.  The Missing airs on STARZ and is only 8 episodes.  Check the whole season out on “On Demand”.  I understand a teaser trailer was revealed entitled “A New Case”.  No date has been set, but this limited series looks like it may go into a 2nd season.

STATE OF AFFAIRS – My rating: 7.5/10

StateOfAffairsAn unlikely plot when 2 high ranking women decide to plot murder on the terrorist responsible for the death of their son/fiance.  In other words, revenge.  Alfre Woodard and Katherine Heigl are CIA and President of the United States, respectively.  Katherine Heigl plays Charleston Tucker, the CIA Official who was engaged to Aaron Payton, the President’s son, played by Mark Tallman.  Alfre Woodard plays President Constance Payton, a former war veteran and Courtney B. Vance plays the President’s husband, Marshall Payton.  For some reason, they were all together in Kabul, Afghanistan where they were attacked by a terrorist group lead by Omar Abdul Fatah.  Aaron was killed but the women were not.  It appears that their mission, going forward, is to kill any and everyone responsible for Aaron’s death.  There are many secrets yet to unfold.  While I love a good drama, I’m not sure this one is going to make it.  There’s  nothing wrong with the acting or the characters, except I’d hate to think that the President’s main agenda is revenge, yet I was happy when we took down Osama Bin Laden.

The pilot features  Dr. Benjamin Butler who is working in Africa and who resembles the President’s dead son, Aaron.  While in Kenya, the doctor and his colleagues were kidnapped and threatened with decapatation by a newly formed terrorist group.  In the meanwhile, the mission to take down the  much sorted after Omar Abdul Fatah, already targeted and  in clear site of a US ground military strike team (MI6) was called off by CIA Official, Charleston, in favor of rescuing Dr. Butler instead.  It wasn’t quite clear if the mission was redirected in favor of saving the doctor over killing Fatah because of the doctor’s resemblence to Aaron or Charlie’s  explanation “waiting 6 months would allow us to get Fatah and his entire network instead of just Fatah”.  A lot of risky business here.  It’s worth waiting to see what happens in the next few weeks.  One thing is clear, there is more going on than meets the eye.  A relationship was introduced between Charlie and Nick Vera (Chris McKenna) a CIA asset who worked for Charlie and is keeping a secret regarding Fatah.  There seems to be an obvious resentment between the two despite their romantic involvement.  Nick has been “dark” for over a year.  Secret photos that suggest Charlie and Nick are semi quasi partners in crime are repeatedly sent to Charlie’s cell phone.  Charlie does not remember all that happened the day Aaron was killed.  Her therapist is suggesting that Charlie is blocking out something she doesn’t want to remember.

I find this series a little ambiguous and I don’t think it’s very authentic.  The busyness of the Presidential Staff and the ambiance of the White House is missing.  Scenes like the President walking away from her son’s grave site, after speaking at a memorial, without visual body guards or Charlie being the President’s Daily Briefer which in real life is done by the Director of Intelligence, which is totally separate from the CIA and the fact that we don’t really ever see any of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  gives support to the unofficial look and feel of this White House.   Also, there are a lot of black women e.g., Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Kimberly Elise, Thandie Newton or Jenifer Lewis,  I feel would have made a more believable US President — it’s not an acting thing, it’s the unnaturalness and the energy I find lacking.    State of Affairs airs on NBC.  I still think it has potential.