Matters of Life and Death
That What Follows
Of Gods and Men
Until It Do
Witnesses For The Prosecution
A Boy and a Bike
Culturally relevant and stylishly presented, Seven Seconds is an interesting and absorbing crime drama. The thought provocative, racial undertones play heavily in the series’ moody plot but at a little over 10 hours, Seven Seconds does take its time getting to the meat of the story. Thankfully, the well rounded cast of characters do a good job making some of the slower moments engrossing but Seven Seconds feels bloated and overlong, bogged down by intriguing but ultimately lacklustre subplots that suck some of the energy out of the show with its inflated run time.
Seven Seconds wastes no time getting to the heart of the story. Before the camera has even had a chance to settle, unaware policeman Peter Jablonski (Beau Knapp) hits an African-American black teenager in a snow-covered park. Confused and in shock, fellow police officers led by Mike Diangelo (David Lyons) advise Jablonski to drive away while they cover up the accident. Convinced this could fuel another race-related riot like the ones in Ferguson and Charlotte, the officers scramble to cover up the crime scene all whilst leaving the victim, 15 year old Brendan Butler, bleeding out in the snow. Of course, not every variable can be accounted for and what follows is an investigation and a campaign to get justice for Brendan as the police’s deception begins to unravel.
The plot line is certainly intriguing and the way Seven Seconds changes perspective from the corrupt police officers to the grieving family of the victim and again to the prosecution looking for justice for the family gives the series some much needed differing viewpoints on the incident. Over the 10 hours the various characters all go on substantial journeys with well fleshed out arcs and unique personalities. Despite the long run time, Seven Seconds does end a little too abruptly, leaving the audience stewing over the events that transpire in the finale. In what seems to be a trend for Netflix shows of late, Seven Seconds does feel overlong and with some of the episodes over an hour, there’s an exhaustive amount to get through here to get to the meat of the series which lies in the final 3 episodes. Here the series transforms into an exciting, tense courtroom drama injecting some much needed pace into the otherwise methodically slow series.
Thanks to an excellent cast, some of the issues can be glossed over with the well written dialogue accompanying the brilliant performances from the actors. Grieving mother Latrice Butler (Regina King) is excellent in her role as Brendan’s mother and really plays the role of a torn, lost mother well, quivering lip and all. Gum chewing Fish (Michael Mosley) fronts as the comic relief but is arguably one of the most likeable characters here as he plays a supporting role to damaged prosecutor KJ (Clare-Hope Ashitey) whom the show makes the lead protagonist here.
Thematically, Seven Seconds is very good at delivering its thought provocative undertones. Questions around racial inequality, honour, justice and the differences between the treatment of blacks and whites are all raised here and the adult way these are handled give Seven Seconds a maturity needed to tell its story in an unbiased way. The final scenes of the show beautifully illustrate this with a bittersweet ending leaving a feeling of reflection in its wake. Aesthetically, Seven Seconds is a very good looking and unique show too. With no opening credits and some beautiful aerial establishing shots, there’s no denying that this series is certainly an artistic one.
Even with its pacing issues and overlong run time, Seven Seconds is still a very good crime drama. The culturally relevant themes around race and justice are handled maturely and along with the excellent cast of well acted characters, make the 10 hours spent watching this well worth the time investment. Still, the overlong run time does dampen some of the effectiveness and shock the show throws at you early on but the excellent final three episodes go some way to rectify this. The abrupt ending might irk those expecting everything to be wrapped up in a neat Hollywood-shaped bow but given the dark tone of Seven Seconds, personally it makes more of an impact to go this route than to round everything out nicely. Given its cultural relevance, this thought provocative crime drama is well worth checking out even if it does take its time before reaching the best it has to offer.
Verdict - 8.5/10