Cast: Nathan Stewart-Jarret, Gemma Arterton, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Niamh Algar, Kamel El Basha, Tara Abboud, Karl Collins, Vincent Riotta.
Creator: J. Blakeson
Director: Jake Blakeson, Claire Oakley
Streaming On: Star, Disney+, and Hulu.
Runtime: 8 Episodes, Around 1 hour each.
Culprits Season 1 Review: What’s It About:
Culprits is a new heist TV series debuting on Hulu, Disney+, and Star, depending on the territory. The eight-season episode focuses on the life of David, a man living several lives at the same time. The show splits into two timelines, showing David during two pivotal moments in his life: during a massive heist and after the heist. The series then goes back and forth between the two timelines, and we see that getting out of the game is easier said than done. How did David get to this place? And will he be able to save his new life from disaster?
Culprits Season 1 Review: Script Analysis:
Culprits is the brainchild of Jake Blakeson, a filmmaker who has been around the block for several years and made a name for himself by writing and directing “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” in 2009. The film, starring none other than Gemma Arterton, became a cult classic and gave a big boost to the filmmaker’s career. Since then, Blakeson has been working both in film and television, with certain degrees of success. Culprits feels very much in line with the rest of Blakeson’s filmography, which is to say that while solid, it won’t blow you away.
So far, Blakenson’s projects have fallen into a middle ground between solid fun and boring messes. It is hard to say this about any creative output, but Blakeson’s work has not been very consistent in terms of quality. Culprits feels right in line with the rest of his filmography because, while the show tries as hard as it can to be cool, thrilling, and emotional, it fails to put all the pieces together in the right place. The result is a show that can be quite entertaining, but doesn’t manage to fulfill all the promises that the setup makes.
Pacing is a big factor in this and might be one of the show’s biggest flaws. We couldn’t say that the show is a slow burn. And yet, some scenes really feel longer than they should be, and most of the content feels somewhat stretched to meet the one-hour running time for each episode. On the one hand, the running time allows us to meet the characters and spend time with them, which in turn makes us like or dislike them with the proper strength that the script wants it to, but there are other scenes that feel very much like filler and make each episode feel boring at times.
As the show progresses, some of the character decisions also become a bit strange, to say the least, and the plot goes off the rails and ends up not meeting expectations. The journey to get to that point is filled with fun and thrilling moments. The script really puts in the work to add as many twists and turns as possible, but the final result doesn’t feel as meaningful as it should. There are worse shows out there, for sure, but Culprits could have done a better job landing its ending. It reminds me very much of what happened with “Hunters” on Amazon Prime.
Culprits Season 1 Review: Star Performance:
If there is something that really makes Culprit worth watching, it is its cast. Blakeson has been lucky enough to get a great number of actors to work with him on the show. This includes his previous collaborator, Gemma Arterton, who plays one of the most pivotal roles in the show. However, it is not Arterton who makes the most compelling cast for the best character in the show. First, we have our main protagonist, David, played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. Nathan has come a long way since Misfits, and here he gets to shine.
David is a very complex character, as he moves in and out of the crime world and tries to build a new life for himself. There are still bits and pieces of his old self in his new self, and this creates excellent drama. Nathan is, without a doubt, one of the most underrated actors of his generation, so it feels great for him to have the lead role this time. Outside of Nathan being the protagonist, Niamh Algar is always a pleasure to watch. The actress is really talented, and here she gets to play and have fun with a very mysterious and dangerous character.
Culprits Season 1 Review: Direction & Music:
When it comes to its visual presentation, Culprits does the best it can. You can definitely see that this is not the most high-budget show you have ever seen. And yet, the filmmakers have enough resources to create great sequences. Some of the heist moments are very well realized, and the action is pure and fun. These elements won’t distract anyone from the story, but they won’t stand out either. There are shows like Gangs of London and movies like The Raid that have raised the bar when it comes to action.
The calmer and quieter moments also get a solid treatment. The cinematography goes for the safest possible choices, which is a bit boring. The times the camera does something daring with framing or movement are very few. It makes those moments feel special, for sure, but we would have liked to see more of them. The score also does its job by raising the stakes when it has to. Creating a tense atmosphere is essential in this type of story, and the score does just that. Could it be better? Sure, but that is the thing with the eternity of Culprits.
Culprits Season 1 Review: Last Words:
Culprits might not be the first choice when it comes to watching a TV show nowadays. The options are endless, and Culprits, while solid, doesn’t have that “wow” factor that will make everyone tune in no matter what. As it is, it is a fun ride, and it tells a very compelling and thrilling heist story. The back and forth between the timelines might get confusing or too hectic at times, but it won’t really turn off most audiences. If you really are in the mood for a crime story, then this is the show for you. It is way better than Kaleidoscope on Netflix, for sure.