TV Show Reviews
City" review by
Wednesdays 9/8c on TNT
After the dreck that was Bonnie and Clyde, I was afraid to get my hopes up concerning any more “epic television events.” However, I am four hours into TNT’s neo-noir drama Mob City, and I am happy I didn’t let past experiences cloud this one. Mob City, based on the book LA Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City, follows the long-time rivalry between Los Angeles police and the ruthless organized crime units led by Bugsy Segal, played by the every-hunky Ed Burns, and Mickey Cohen in the 1940s (although the movie jumps between then and the 1920s), Mob City chronicles the power struggle through the eyes of two lesser-known players, Detective Joe Teague (Jon Bernthal) and Ned Stax (Milo Ventimiglia), and is directed by Frank Darabont of Walking Dead fame. Offering just enough crime drama to capture interest, this nod film noir is worth the time investment.
Darabont and Bernthal aren’t all that’s reminiscent of The Walking Dead. The series has the grit and dark humor that fans of the zombie show will recognize, but has a sophistication in the elements of noir that TWD lacks. I’ll admit the pacing was slow at first, but it it becomes evident that it is necessary to acclimate us to all the characters and their connections. While visually stunning, the plot is a little rickety, relying pretty heavily on the gangster cliches you would expect from a 1940s pulp movie, and overt, gratuitous, violent shootouts and murders.
What this series lacks in good, strong storytelling, it makes up for in imagery and rhythm. Bloody, macabre scenes set to Frank Sinatra make it much more palatable and allows for the tongue-in-cheek violence to go over as artistry, not as vulgarity. This series is a definite time commitment, but its worth it if you have ever been nostalgic for a time when films were less literal in their existence and alluded to a beauty in the filmmaking itself. .
Mob City does just this. On its own it doesn’t do too much to break any ground, but as a nod to the film noir genre it is precise and captivating. Oh, and there’s Milo Ventimiglia and Jon Bernthal; you could tune in just see these two. Ventimiglia could charm the paint off the walls with that incredible crooked mouth, and Bernthal is just gritty enough to make me swoon. Even if you aren’t as much of a noir-geek as I am, Mob City will entertain you -- but beware the violence. There is enough shootouts to make ten gangster movies.
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