Jaguar is an exciting, vibrant historical drama armed with great action and some pretty compelling characters. Unfortunately it’s also way too short for the story it’s trying to tell.
Much like Hunters on Amazon Prime, Jaguar channels the same sort of Nazi-killing vibes, depicting a group of hunters hell-bent on revenge against the Germans. Here though, that bloodthirsty mission falls to Isabel, a Holocaust camp survivor.
After witnessing her father killed in the camps as a child – and losing her brother to the horrors of Maunthausen – Isabel is determined to kill the officer who oversaw all of this, Otto Bachmann.
To complicate matters though, a secretive group of hunters are on the prowl, having watched Isabel for quite some time. They soon stop her from carrying out the mission, recruiting her to a much larger operation. This comes in the form of uncovering ODESSA, a codename given to depict Nazi underground escape plans.
With a blend of espionage work, fast-paced foot chases and even gunfights, Jaguar slowly evolves from a historical drama into more of an all-out action flick toward the end of its run-time. This shift does gives the series something of a tonally confused feel, especially given the lack of explanation toward certain events. Not to mention the sheer amount of plot armour some characters wear.
Wirthout giving away any spoilers, fans of La Casa De Papal will see numerous influences here, especially during the final two episodes. In fact, these two chapters almost feel like a completely different show. This isn’t helped by the cliffhanger ending either, which leaves absolutely everything unresolved and baiting for a second season that may or may not come
Where Jaguar fares a little better however is in its character writing. Every member of the crew are well-rounded, with their own reasons for being part of this group.
From plucky youngster Castro to the main man in charge, Lucena, everyone has time in the spotlight to share secrets from their past. I won’t spoil any of that here, but Marse’s flashbacks in particular include some pretty gorgeous hand-drawn animations; a stark contrast to the harrowing tale he unravels for them all.
It’s these flickers of brilliance that make Jaguar worth investing some time into. It’s also the sole reason this show feels a little disappointing by the time you reach the finale. That’s not to say the show ruins what it builds up, but it does feel rushed and undercooked, in what should otherwise be an 8 – or even a 10 – chapter show.
The production design though looks fantastic. 1960’s Spain has been brought to life with exquisite detail and every part of this show pops. The expository text that smashes on-screen for the first few episodes works perfectly too, although as a bit of a gripe the main title music, with its fast-paced guitar strums and rock influences, doesn’t quite work with the themes in the story.
So really, Jaguar is somewhat of an enigma. It’s a show that very clearly wants to tell an important story, but it’s also not shy about taking risks and throwing in a massive, impossibly realized shootout or action set piece. There’s undeniably some charm to be had here, and despite the disappointing ending, has enough in the tank to make this is an enjoyable ride – even if it’s one you’re unlike to take again in a hurry.
Verdict - 6.5/10