[Tubefilter got an early preview of the first four episodes of Angel of Death, which premieres March 2nd on Crackle.com — warning there may be a spoiler or two in this review, so be warned!]
Let me tell you what’s Bad Ass: This show, Zoe Bell, and how I feel when I watch it.
Angel of Death, the ten episode web series from creator Ed Brubaker and Sony’s Crackle is coming to a computer near you on March 2nd. This gem, about a cold-blooded killer growing a conscience, along with a few other shows I’m starting to see out there, is a whole new level of web series—from storytelling, to production value, to performance. I’m telling you folks, the times they are a changin’.
Zoe Bell’s ass-kicking assassin, Eve, starts off the show cold as ice. Early on in the series, however, she suffers an injury that borders on camp but exhibits a deft balancing act of tone that let’s us know we are in very capable hands. From that moment on we begin to witness Eve’s breakdown and a character arc Robert McKee would be proud of.
Speaking of McKee, this serialized show has a unique twist to its creation, which is that the full series, which begins March 2nd and ends March 13th, will be compiled with added footage into a single feature film which will be released on DVD after its online premiere. And believe me, between Brubaker’s writing and the direction of Paul Etheredge, this stylish, smart show has all the makings for a twisting, turning, action packed character piece you’d definitely pay to see.
Frankly, since this on Crackle.com, Sony Pictures’ online entertainment arm, I think the show might be better served going the way of Sony Television as opposed to Sony home video. Bell’s Eve is a fascinating character that by episode four becomes so rich I’d love to see her on her very own cable TV show at an hour a clip. Now, I know that’s a tall order to jump from an 8 to 10 minute show to an hour-long, but as this one progresses and the turns keep coming, you realize that Brubaker, who is best known for his graphic novels (Captain America, Criminal) has a great sense of story that always ends with a bang that leaves you wanting more. I’d think TV studio execs would be salivating for those kinds of Act-outs to keep their audiences coming back.
As far as style, the show has it in spades, using Brubaker’s comic background as inspiration for shifting comic book-like panels for scene transitions, split screens for phone conversations, etc and even some off-putting, skewed camera angles. Etheridge is using every trick in his bag and he’s got quite a few. In the first episode I do have one criticism, which is that the fight scene which ultimately becomes the catalyst for Eve’s change is not that great. It could have been choreographed and shot much better. And I was a little worried about it until in episode four when Eve finally commits to her big change and begins a vengeful hunt for her mob employers and brawls with one of the lead thugs in a cringe-worthy bout that looks real enough to scare this pansy reviewer. Thank God. That shit was good.
The other thing about this reviewer (other than being a pansy) is that he loves a little supernatural in his entertainment and this show has that, just a little. Or is it merely a psychological breakdown when Eve begins to see the ghosts of her victims in episode two? Episode three begins to unravel that idea slightly when Eve seems to get some incriminating info about her boss and quasi-caretaker after her injury, Graham, played by Brian Poth. Episode four completely answers the supernatural question and starts Eve under some new command that she seems to have no choice but to follow.
Poth’s Graham, for his part, at this point, is an interesting character who is walking a tightrope with the Feds and the mob, playing both sides with the friendliest smile you can imagine. Nothing will ever stick to this guy, not because he’s slick, but because he just looks so damn innocent and well-meaning. Some very interesting and effective casting here.
The casting overall is pretty good. As I’ve said, Zoe Bell is kick-ass. A stuntwoman by trade, her acting is a little bumpy at first, but she rises to the occasion so that by episode four you’ve forgotten your couple of head shakes from episode one. Drug addled, Mob doc, Dr. Rankin, played by Doug Jones, is a little bit comic relief and a lotta fun, especially as he deals with Eve’s stab wound in episode two (this wound is one of the aforementioned camp moments in the show that I won’t reveal because it’s just too good to spoil for you here).
Lucy Lawless and Zoe Bell on set of Sony/Crackle’s Angel of Death (Photos by Brady Brim-DeForest)
At the moment, the jury is out on Franklin, Eve’s assassin trainee, he just seems a little too ‘naïve’ to be a future assassin, there’s just no darkness to him and I can’t tell if it’s the writing, directing or Justin Huen’s acting, but something here is amiss. And finally there’s Jake Abel as beleaguered mob-boss-to-be, Cameron Downes. This kid must be twenty years old and just as a choice in the writing, is a fantastic character that’ll be one to watch as he slowly implodes, because you just know it’s going to happen. As far as name-dropping, Lucy Lawless is supposed to soon appear on the show, but as of episode four she hasn’t, but that’s sure to add some more light to an already mostly bright cast.
Well, have I gushed enough? Sorry, I know, it’s much more fun when I get down and dirty on something, but this show does all the work for me. I’m half-afraid (remember: pansy) Zoe Bell is going to show up at my door and kick my ass if this review was anything less than stellar. Then again, I might enjoy that, that’s another side of me you don’t know, but it’s a side that has found a new love with my new favorite Angel, the coldhearted killer, Eve. So, please, join me and watch this show, and maybe some of you more tenacious types might push them to make this a television series so we can spend a lot more time with our new friendly neighborhood contract killer.
[For more on Angel of Death, make sure you read Tubefilter's on-set interview with the Zoe Bell.]