Sunday, September 25, 2011

REVIEW: Person of Interest

CBS - Thursdays 9 pm ET

Written by Jonathan Nolan (The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) and produce by JJ Abrams (Lost, need I say more), Person of Interest combines Minority Report and Enemy of the State, adds a little Michael Emerson and James Caviezel, and unleashes what could turn out to be an excellent procedural.

1. Does it entertain me?
The answer to this is a resounding "yes!" Easily one of the best pilots I've seen in a while, Person of Interest does not waste any time jumping into the world of post-9/11 government omniscience.

James Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, Count of Monte Cristo) is an ex-CIA operative/homeless guy/all-around-badass who is recruited by Michael Emerson (Lost) to be his go-to crime stopper. The only difference is that neither man exists in the eyes of the government, and they are tasked with stopping crimes before they happen.

Using a machine he built, Mr. Finch (Emerson) is able to filter out all the terrorist chatter and focus instead on the forgotten conversations, those dealing with everyday crimes.

It is then John Reese's job (Caviezel) to use all his spy skills to find out if the person they are looking at is the victim or the perpetrator, and stop whatever crime is about to be committed from being committed.

There are possibilities galore in this show, dealing with the notion of privacy, revenge, crime-solving, and especially motivation. What happened to Reese and Finch that led them to these points? Does anyone else know they exist and that they are doing the cops' jobs? Is there a moral issue involved with arresting people before they commit a crime (the show may not even go that route, as in the pilot, the evildoers had done previous evil in the past).

2. Is it realistic?

It's hard at first not to think that Caviezel is reprising his role of Edmund Dantes, but that is not the worst problem if he is. Both leads are excellent in their roles, and both have a chemistry together that makes you believe that they could take on the scum of New York.

Caviezel has a calm to his acting and his portrayal that you believe he could be an ex-CIA operative, ready to exact his brand of justice with a grenade, an assault rifle or his lethal fists of fury.

And someone could tell me at any point that Emerson was the smartest man alive and I'd believe it. Then I'd be scared to death, because he is smart, manipulative, endearing and charming at the same time. His work as Ben Linus on Lost was masterful, and from the moment he appears on the screen here, you don't turn away because he might say something profound.

A machine that monitors every one of our conversations at any given time is also believable, which is a frightening thought, and this is the most important thing to believe. If you can't buy that Finch and Reese can know what is going to be involved in a crime, then the show fails.

But luckily both are very believable.

3. Are immoral actions defended?
Minority Report was a little more problematic in its handling of crimes, since they were dealt with before they happened (and this was the purpose behind Phillip K. Dick's short story). It is unclear, as mentioned above, if this notion will be dealt with, but given the writer (Nolan), I would not put it past their grasp.

Reese also has a knack for shooting people in the leg (he's either the world's worst shot, or the best, depending on where he is aiming). At some point, he will probably kill someone, but I doubt it will be in a justified cold-blooded homicide.

Given the nature of other procedurals, Person of Interest will probably follow the Natural Law in this area, always doing good and avoiding evil. But if evil is done, then expect it to come with a certain amount of discussion and exposition. All of which excites me.

4. How does the show deal with the family and traditional family values?
In the first episode, there was only one brief encounter between Reese and some mysterious woman, but there's also a possibility that that was his wife in bed with him. To which we say, unabashedly, go for it!

But at some point, through dialogue with Finch, we learn that someone Reese loved was killed when he was half-way around the world. So we have that to look forward to

And we know virtually nothing about Finch and his life, his kids, parents and love interests. With time that will probably come, though.
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Person of Interest has the potential to rise above the other procedurals out there via a fresh take on the subject. Everything about this show felt new, and through the great writing of Nolan and Caviezel's and Emerson's acting gravitas, there is a wonderful promise of things to come.

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