TV SHOW REVIEW - Luke Cage: Vol 1
By The Masked Medic
Following the success of Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix, the next character to get a series was none other than Luke Cage. Having already appeared as a guest star in Season 1 of “Jessica Jones”, I was already familiar with the character and his skillset. Unbreakable skin seemed like an awesome power and I was excited to see where Luke’s adventures in his own part of town would take him.
Season 1 of “Luke Cage” sees our titular character moving to the neighbourhood of Harlem. After finding out what happened to his wife, Reeva, Luke is keen initially to keep a low profile and just make an honest living. However when it appears that the local club owner and resident don, Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes and his cousin, budding politician, Mariah Dillard are making money by selling guns on the streets of Harlem, Luke finds himself involved in a beef that he didn’t start. Added to the mix is a familiar, yet disconcerting, face from his past whose presence could threaten to unravel everything the new life that Luke has built. Can Cage step up to mark and protect his new home?
Given that this show was following “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones”, I had really high hopes for it. I also felt like Luke was one of my favourite characters in Season 1 of “Jessica Jones”. That being said, this show, unfortunately, did not excite me in the same ways the other two did. I found that the show really dipped at certain points and never really reached the highs that I expected it to get to.
As I mentioned before Luke, played by Mike Colter, was a familiar face from “Jessica Jones”. However, there was another recurring character, Claire, the nurse, played by Rosario Dawson, who had helped both Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones. That connecting thread was nice to see. The standout performance for me though was without a shadow of a doubt, Cornell Stokes, played by the fantastic Mahershala Ali. His performance was akin to none that I’ve seen before and one of my criticisms of the show was the way that they dealt with his story arc. Unlike Kingpin in “Daredevil” and Kilgrave in “Jessica Jones”, Stokes isn’t given the time to flesh out his master plan.
In terms of cinematography, “Luke Cage” spends the majority of its season grounded in realism. Therefore there wasn’t any need for any CGI effects. Given the rather large budgets that Netflix could generally provide, I found that the camera work was excellent as was the general scenery and sets, most of which were actually filmed in the area of Harlem. The music was, however, one of the more positive aspects to the show and I found that almost all of it was focused on Afro-Caribbean artists, highlighting the agenda of the show.
In conclusion, I did not enjoy Luke Cage as much as I expected to. Sure there were moments in the season that had me excited, but there were too many filler episodes. It probably also didn’t help that the villains never really matched up to Luke’s powerset, so it always felt like it was a one-way fight. My only hope is that the next season is much better!
Integral vs Filler Episodes: ★★