Sometimes Monsters Win
White Like Snow
Even If You Were Ugly
Footsteps of Apocalypse
End of All Good Things
In the years since I started reviewing TV shows, one of the things I learnt very early on was to never base the credibility and quality of a series on its pilot episode. Far too often shows change their tone, pace and style across the breadth of a series’ run time and in this respect, Turkish series Wolf is the perfect example of this. The pilot episode opens with explosive action, rife with cheesy one liners and melodramatic characterisation. If you can get past this opening hour however, Wolf settles down, becoming a much deeper and hard hitting series than it first appears to be. While Wolf is not without its flaws, the accurate portrayal of soldiers and their personal and professional struggles in life are perfectly captured in this feature length 6 episode series.
Wolf takes place across several years of Turkish history, beginning in 2014 and skipping ahead to different years to focus on specific military campaigns with each passing episode. At the heart of the series is a team of specialized operatives, the self proclaimed Wolf team. Their missions are dangerous, full of gunfights and regularly mired in controversy. Placed around these action set pieces are individual stories about each of the soldiers as well as an overarching story involving the entire army squadron and other military factions. These all develop over time with some character vendettas and stories bleeding across into the overarching plot and vice versa. It’s a nice set up and while it does feel a little Americanized and Hollywood-esque at times, for the most part the show does well to prevent this occurring too often.
At over 70 minutes per episode, Wolf is quite the time demanding series but if you can get past the admittedly lacklustre first episode, Wolf opens up and rewards your patience with some beautifully shot scenes and tense moments. One such scene shows bullets ricocheting off the ground like silent raindrops before panning up to show all hell breaking loose and the sound kicking back in. Another uses low-lying cameras to pan across cover as if you’re really in the thick of a gunfight. It’s subtle moments like this that give Wolf a really gritty feel and as you grow more attached to each character, these scenes hold far more gravitas toward the end of the series.
When it comes to the characters themselves each have a distinct personality and role within the team. The usual cocky alpha male, over-enthusiastic rookie and cool headed sniper tropes are all here but they’re handled quite well, with each evolving over time in a decent enough manner. The usual camaraderie humour and machismo egos rife within the squad are typical for army squadrons but those not accustomed to this may be taken aback by it slightly. Still, the inclusion of a female in the ranks does go someway to balance this out and is actually a smart move from the writers, adding a touch of sensibility to the squadron.
Wolf may not be as devastating as Saving Private Ryan or as hard hitting as Band Of Brothers, but what it lacks in star power and budget it makes up for with action and character drama. Sometimes the most horrific moments in war occur off the battlefield and seeing these men and women break down under the stressful situations is something Wolf pulls off very well indeed. If you can get past the first episode and look past some of the tropes, Wolf really opens up and while it may still be a little over the top, it ticks the right boxes making it an eye opening slice of Turkish drama.