Along with the cliched plot, everything about the show felt very much like a throwback to the early aughts
The Night Agent reviewed by Jennifer Ariesta
The Night Agent threw every possible spy genre trope to ever exist into 8 episodes of this mildly entertaining Netflix show. The show is adapted from a book of the same name by Matthew Quirk. Within weeks of its release, the show racked up such impressive viewerships that Netflix gave it an unusually quick renewal. Frankly, with all the political-espionage offerings on the service, it’s baffling that this is the one with the most success.
The show is about Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso), a low-rank White House official whose sole job is manning a phone that never rings. Until it does. Soon, he’s thrown into the orbit of disgraced tech executive Rose Larkin (Luciane Buchanan), who’s suddenly being hunted by assassins sent by a mysterious figure connected to the White House. Together, the two go on the run while trying to uncover who and what’s behind her murder attempts.
First of all, why do all espionage series feature a man and a woman against the world? The plot beats felt all too familiar: two really attractive people are thrown into an unprecedented circumstance while a bigger conspiracy is brewing behind the scene; they become hunted one way or another and must embark on a dangerous adventure across many different locations. Bond movies pioneered it, Bourne movies subverted it, Mission: Impossible eventually did away with it - there was really nothing new that this series could offer to the well-worn trope. And this is probably not the last we’ll see of a similar setup. Citadel, Amazon Prime’s upcoming spy thriller show, appears set to replicate the same formula with Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra. Oy vey!
Along with the clichéd plot, everything about the show felt very much like a throwback to the early aughts. The cinematography is cribbed straight from the Bourne movies - all shaky cams, greyish colour grading, and ominous vibe all around. The character dynamics, in which people with high-stake jobs are somehow romantically involved all the time, definitely gave off old CW/ABC shows energy. The latter could’ve been interesting in the hands of more expressive actors with better chemistry, but alas, that wasn’t the case.
Speaking of the acting, The Night Agent is content with giving us serviceable performances out of the actors, with one notable exception named Hong Chau. At this point, I’m convinced that she is incapable of giving a terrible performance and her role as Peter’s White House handler is the only one keeping the series from being straight up corny.
In a world after 24, The Bodyguard, and Homeland existed, the political conspiracy introduced on The Night Agent seemed redundant. You can’t tell me that the opening sequence on the train didn’t give off strong resemblance to the beginning of The Bodyguard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still well-plotted enough to enjoy on a lazy evening. Occasionally, the show displayed bursts of charm and wit that injected some energy into the whole affair. Just don’t expect to get blown away.
Published on April 10th, 2023. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.