sat 02/07/2022

Person of Interest, Channel 5 | reviews, news & interviews

Person of Interest, Channel 5

Person of Interest, Channel 5

Big Brother is watching you, but maybe in a good way

Jim Caviezel as John Reese... or should that be 'John Reese'?

Created by Jonathan Nolan (brother of film director Christopher) and exec-produced by the workaholic JJ Abrams, Person of Interest seeks to accomplish the counter-intuitive feat of finding something to celebrate in our surveillance culture.

We're accustomed to feeling fear and paranoia at the idea that all our tweets, emails and phone calls are being routinely monitored by sundry mysterious agencies, but Person of... wonders whether there's a silver lining in the menacing info-cloud hanging over us.

The show's central duo is the mismatched couple of technology nerd Harold Finch (Michael Emerson, best known from Lost) and former CIA man John Reese (Jim "Jesus" Caviezel), though these aren't their real names. At the moment their histories remain shadowy, but we know they're both operating under the official radar and have erased their tracks, and that Reese's wife Jessica has been killed at some point in the past. "You left the government because they lied to you," he's reminded by Finch, who is apt to go into reveries about knowing what it's like to have "lost someone" (Michael Emerson as Finch, pictured below).

The show is packaged in a reality-style wrapper of surveillance and video imagery, supposedly taken from CCTV cameras, police cars or satellites, but at its heart lies a somewhat comic-book idea of a lone, taciturn hero who goes around righting wrongs at the behest of a reclusive genius. Reese is the muscle, in other words, and the limping, bespectacled Finch is the brains. Indeed, Finch is so brainy that he created a vast information-sifting system called The Machine on behalf of the US government, to exploit the deluge of data being harvested in the aftermath of 9/11. But although the government was only interested (supposedly) in terrorist-related activity, The Machine was interpreting intel about everybody and everything. Finch realised that the system was turning up clues to all kinds of dark and murderous stuff that was simply being ignored, and felt morally obliged to do something about it. So he hired Reese, who he found living as a tramp in New York City, and set about solving some of these cases. 

Now cleaned up and smartly suited, Reese (pictured left) goes out on missions given to him by Finch like a mixture of Batman and Dirty Harry. He even speaks in a menacing Clint Eastwood whisper as he tracks down fraudsters, hit men, racketeers and gangsters, and more often them not gives them a brisk pummeling. However, he's no mere bloodthirsty vigilante, since he rarely kills his targets - unless they're really, really horrid, like this week's bad cop called Stills - but merely shoots them in the leg or the shoulder. In fact he even asked another corrupt detective if he was wearing a bulletproof vest before he shot him (he was).

So, despite its aura of conspiracy and Big Brother-ism, it's more Hawaii Five-0 than 24. This pilot episode was enjoyable, and next week's episode two is better as Caviezel and Emerson settle into their contrasting roles. The story goes that by the end of series one, Person of Interest is playing a blinder. 

At its heart lies a comic-book idea of a lone, taciturn hero who goes around righting wrongs at the behest of a reclusive genius

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One correction: Jessica is Reese's girlfriend, not his wife. That's an important distinction.

Thanks for pointing this out, Chimera.

"Jim Caviezel as John Reese... or should that be 'John Reese'?" what? am i missing the gag here? "..and more often them not gives them a brisk pummeling" "..but merely shoots then in the leg or the shoulder" issues with then, them & than? how many l's in pummelling?

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