Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3/5
Anticipation was high given the political context and headline names of Eva Green and Vincent Cassel attached to Liaison, AppleTV’s newest thriller. Brexit has been a complicated topic for moviemakers and not many have taken on the mantle to untangle the complexity. Liaison has the issue at the centre of its cinematic universe, but the excitement dies down by the second episode as you realize it doesn’t really have anything original to say.
In fact, Liaison unsuccessfully makes the effort to round up a spy story around the issue. One can perhaps call it a modern version of the Carnatic wars but that is about it.
Alison’s (Green) and Gabriel’s (Cassel) paths collide when Syrian hacker brothers steal vital information from Assad and the UK is subjected to cyberterrorist attacks. They are spies and former lovers, and their checkered history has a disturbing, life-changing (and not in a good way) event at its heart. Samir and Walid, the brothers, are tracked by the two spies and their governments. Behind all the powerful master moves is a private organization called Antropa. They have infiltrated both sets of governments and want to do what corporations do best: earn more money.
The series revolves around these landmarks, both narratively and through the lens of exposition. For once, six episodes feels too little for the expansion of the story. We do not usually get to say that too much but given how much there is to unpack here, Liaison is certainly affected by it. In hindsight, it turned out to be a limiting creative choice rather than an enabling one. There is too much emphasis on calculation and precision these days regarding the length of a show. Instead of letting the story naturally play out and then looking at the ramifications of cutting stuff out, it happens the other way around.
The number of episodes in Liaison does not aid its bid to accentuate pacing. It diminishes the extent of possibilities of diving deeper into the histories of Alison and Gabriel, while also sacrificing a more sturdy buildup of the plot. Green and Cassel are immensely talented actors who specialize in channeling vulnerability on the screen. More elaborate character studies would have truly given them an opportunity to embrace their characters. In its current shape, Liaison is too much of a stop-start show for the actors to get their grip on them.
The narrative also does not depend solely on that factor either having its own story play out independently of Alison and Gabriel. One lacking element of this tangent comes from the poor plotting. Despite devoting so much time to Antropa’s mischiefs and highlighting the dirty political pit, it lacks bite and believability. Along with being disjointed, it never quite cajoles the viewer into making anything more of what it already is. There have been such brilliant, prosaic shows not too long ago that have done this effortlessly. The Old Man and A Spy Among Friends are a few instances.
Bottom line is that Liaison’s politically charged intentions are not nearly as exciting enough. They do not ignite a sense of wonder in viewers, which is a huge disappointment. Everything is pretty much straightforward with very little effort to make the show intriguing. Such misgivings are not easily excusable. The makers of the show do not necessarily crack the espionage code in their own way.
While one could argue that the story is not standard at all, the execution most certainly is. In fact, you could go further and say the execution is below standard and lacks any motivated decision-making. The moment where Liaison, as a show, has to decide to take the convenient way out or the hard one never arrives. That non-availability ensures we’re set up for mediocrity; the fate of the show was already written before it aired. There were high hopes for this one but alas, from our side, we don’t recommend Liaison.
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Verdict - 5.5/10