One of the most important parts of any show is a likable protagonist. Even shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones , notorious for their despicable, morally corrupt players, have people we can get behind. Ludik, however, does not.
Despite a simple and enjoyable revenge thriller plot, this South African thriller crumbles when it comes to the characters, and, in particular, its titular protagonist Daan Ludik. Daan is a pretty horrible person. He’s constantly belittling his son, he doesn’t really respect his wife, he doesn’t respect his daughter’s boyfriend (who happens to be an Olympic gold medalist) and he’s overall pretty remorseless.
Although flashbacks in episode 1 go some way to explain his attitude, the rest of the episodes do nothing to improve his persona. In fact, Daan doesn’t really have much of a character journey beyond “don’t get caught”, making for a rather tepid and forgettable journey.
The story itself centers around Daan’s furniture business, Ludik Furniture and Carpets. Daan’s made a good name for himself in the area, with his trusty driver Charles and a team of experts running a tight ship. The thing is, Daan hides a big secret.
It turns out this operation is just a front for a secret diamond smuggling trade, which operates behind the scenes. Daan’s buyer is Farhad but with great reward comes even greater risk.
When Daan’s brother Swys is kidnapped by Arend Brown, Daan is forced to switch up his business to move some gear around for this shady antagonist. As the season progresses, Swys becomes a more integral part of the plot and the story evolves into more of a revenge thriller.
There are extra players who come into the fold later on to complicate matters, including Nkala who wants revenge for his dead father and demands answers from Arend. We also get the Brigadier investigating Ludik’s enterprise, determined to figure out what our protagonist may be hiding. All of this leads to a bombastic final episode that resolves most of the big plot points but does also leave things wide open after a big discovery at the end. No spoilers here though!
With 6 episodes clocking in at a little under an hour, Ludik has plenty of time to play with but the pacing is really quite poor. It doesn’t help that the sound design is uninspired on the whole, and the characters cliched and very tropey. Swys is your typical recovering/relapsing drug addict, Lil is the generic computer whizz and Daan’s messy family life is typical for a show like this.
But again, all of this could be overlooked if there were good characters to root for. Ludik really struggles with that and it’s something that certainly doesn’t improve as the season goes on. In fact, none of the characters really learn or grow either – at least not Swys and Daan anyway.
Ludik could have been a bombastic action thriller but instead, this one starts off on rocky ground before petering out into mediocrity. The story isn’t too bad but a slow pace and a terribly unlikable protagonist make this far less appealing than it should be. It’s a real shame because there’s definitely potential here.
Verdict - 4.5/10