Sunday, June 8, 2014

Season Premiere Review: "Power"

"Power,  is a new double-life crime  drama from The Starz Network & Producer/Hip Hop Mogul/Actor Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. The action, cinematography and story is steamy,violent and visually stunning but the story sometimes lacks originality."

Power is definitely not "ALL FLASH AND NO SUBSTANCE" but it is certainly "Not What We Planned". The TV Network Starz has certainly had an eclectic slate of original programming over the past few years. Between shows like Spartacus, Party Down, Torchwood, Black Sails and Da Vinci's Demons, The White Queen and Outlander, you've gotta give the premium cable network credit for trying a bunch of different genres.Their latest effort, Power, might be a harder sell for some, if only because it's yet another crime drama in a sea of countless others like it. But that's no reason to hold anything against this new show ! One of the show's flaws is that it makes almost no effort to change the formula, resulting in stereotypical characters and a predictable story.

 Power is produced by Rapper 50 Cent,  and stars  Omari Hardwick as James "Ghost" St. Patrick, a wealthy New York nightclub owner who has it all. That's made abundantly clear in the opening scene of the pilot, as Ghost, face unseen, picks out a crisp shirt from his immaculate closet, adjusts his matching tie, slips on a fancy watch and escorts his scantily clad wife, Tasha (Naturi Naughton), into a limousine. Clearly, this is a man with both money and power.

If you are wondering, what the catch is ? Ghost is leading a double life as a drug kingpin. With that in mind, the irony probably won't escape viewers that his VIP nightclub is called "Truth." Indeed, this is the level of heavy-handed storytelling that we're dealing with in Power's inaugural episode.The show has a sleek and sexy presentation, which definitely holds the  visual aspect in tact. The modern sets and stylish music definitely showcase Ghost's high-end lifestyle, while also glorifying his amoral conduct in the process. In an age of TV antiheroes where characters like Walter White, Frank Underwood and Don Draper reign supreme, it's initially hard to get on-board with Ghost, who shares a lot of their raw charisma. However Ghost provides an urban, realistic and gritty edge that the a fore mentioned can't.
The rest of Power's ensemble is quite stellar . Tasha, is seemingly seductive and dominant in her own right, yet she spends most of the pilot looking at herself in a mirror, giving Naughton ample opportunities and screen time to and make her intentions known.  Ghost's lifelong friend and partner in crime Tommy (Joseph Sikora) does a great job of playing a formidable henchman. His overdone thirst for criminal activity is sometimes off-putting when played against Ghost's apparent want to get out of the game and focus more on his nightclub. But he creates a great balance.

One drawback plot-wise is that Ghost stereo typically  runs into an old flame named, Angela (Lela Loren), who's now involved in a criminal investigation to take down Ghost's bigwig employer, Lobos (Enrique Murciano) -- unbeknownst to Ghost.  While annoying at first, this is probably the most interesting aspect of Ghost's sometimes tedious drug cartel storyline.

 Power is a show that could very well skirt by on its good looks alone, at least for awhile. It's undeniably slick, and despite the sometimes one-sided  characters, the acting is actually  very decent. Hardwick and Naughton have amazingly  good chemistry together, and Murciano's Lobos has a pretty cool scene with Ghost in the early part of the first episode. Of course, future episodes will likely delve deeper into those character relationships, and  given what's in this first hour, it might just be worth the wait ! Ultimately, Power has a good hook,  that aims to set itself apart from all other crime dramas.

OUR VERDICT

Starz and producer 50 Cent's new show Power has a lot going for it : eye-catching sets, sexy people in sexy clothes and no shortage of voguish hip hop music. The principal underbelly of drug cartels, murder and betrayal is all straight from the pages of Crime Drama 101, however this new series does it's best to shake up the genre.  7.5 out of 10
*You can  now watch the premiere above via Youtube , but please be aware that there is some drug use, violence and adult sexual situations.