fri 19/07/2024

True Detective, Series 2, Sky Atlantic | reviews, news & interviews

True Detective, Series 2, Sky Atlantic

True Detective, Series 2, Sky Atlantic

Plenty of acting talent, but the story sounds strangely familiar

California vice: Colin Farrell as Detective Ray Velcoro

Last year's debut series of True Detective starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in a fascinating slice of metaphysical Southern Gothic. That's all gone now though, because this time, writer Nic Pizzolatto has shunted the action out to the West Coast, to a small fictional city in the shadow of Los Angeles called Vinci. Apparently Pizzolatto based it on real-life Vernon, California, a city infamous for its history of endemic corruption.

The show's new protagonists are Detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), a Vinci cop with a long list of personal issues, and casino owner Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn, entirely purged of any traces of "frat pack" comedy; the two pictured below). Semyon aims to strike it rich with the $68bn California Central Rail Corridor project, for which he's schmoozing local businessmen and politicians and luring them with promises of piles of federal dollars. He uses Velcoro for house-cleaning tasks, such as breaking into the home of a Los Angeles Times reporter who's writing a series of articles about local corruption to give him a kicking and steal all his research notes.

It must be said that this new set-up lacks the disorientating weirdness that made the first series so striking, and its vision of a Los Angeles where corruption is taken for granted and everybody is suffering their own set of variations on the American Nightmare has already been amply explored by James Ellroy's novels, cop shows like The Shield, or Polanski's classic turbo-noir, Chinatown.

For instance, Farrell's character is permanently scarred by the rape of his wife, after which she left him with a child who may or may not be his. Farrell effectively conveys the sadness and desperate protectiveness Velcoro feels towards his chubby, bullied son, though stretches the point a bit when he visits the home of one of his schoolboy tormenters and beats his father raw on the front porch with a knuckleduster. Meanwhile, when he's not meeting up with Semyon in dingy bars, he's swigging bourbon behind the wheel of his car.

Not that any of the local cops seem to be in much better shape. Detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams, pictured top right) has elephant-in-the-room father issues (her dad is some old Haight-Ashbury freak who gives lectures to religious cultists), is at daggers drawn with her sister who's a recovering addict working as a porn actress, and enjoys rough sex and picking fights with bouncers.

Then there's Highway Patrolman Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch, pictured below). Disillusioned at being wrongly disciplined for soliciting a blow-job from a stunning blonde actress he stopped for drink-driving, he's prone to taking existential high-speed motorbike blasts down the blacked-out highway, and is nursing horrific scarring down the left side of his body.

It's midnight rider Woodrugh who happens upon the hideously mutilated corpse of city manager Ben Casper, a pivotal player in the railway project. It's this which will set the plot-wheels grinding and throw a live grenade into the foul-smelling innards of Vinci City (population: unspeakable). As Semyon puts it, "this place is built on a co-dependency of interest."

There's no problem with the acting talent or the pungently evocative cinematography, but what we need to know is whether this new series can carve itself a niche distinct from its rather-too-familiar antecedents.

We need to know whether this new series can carve itself a niche distinct from its rather-too-familiar antecedents


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Pretty much the worst... it was hard to make any sense of what was going on in the entire season. They knocked out of the park with season 1 I wish I would have skipped the entire season 2.

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