Fall 2015 Review: The Player

25 Sep

The Player

The Player is one of two ludicrous high-concept action shows NBC is airing this year, and possibly the more ludicrous, though I’ve veered back and forth between the two. It’s also unrelated to the early ‘90s Robert Altman movie of the same name.

Here’s the story. Alex Kane is the best security consultant in the industry in Las Vegas. He’s just that good. He’s hired to protect high value targets and to show the audience his sheer competence he saves a rich foreign royal family in the first couple of minutes. He follows his success with a meaningful moment with his ex-wife where they decide to get back together until she’s subsequently murdered leaving him as the prime suspect. He knows, however, that he’s not only innocent but that the killer was coming for him; the killer wants another shot at the same royal family he protected before and saw him as the biggest obstacle in the way.

He escapes from the hospital where he’s being held while the police look into him. Now the real fun starts. He’s helped in his escape by a woman Cassandra, who takes him to a man, Mr. Johnson, played by Wesley Snipes. They work for a cadre of very, very rich men, who are above the FBI, above the CIA, above basically everyone. They have capabilities far beyond what Alex can imagine. In fact, they’ve figured out a way to predict crime. Alex has 10 minutes, Cassandra and Johnson tell him, to save the family he was assigned to protect at the beginning of the show. Without really understanding, he races to save them, but is unable to get there in time. The daughter is kidnapped and several people are killed, and he’s blamed.

He meets with Cassandra and Johnson again and they fill him in further. The mega-wealthy bore easily. They like to gamble, but typical gambling is far too low stakes.  So, they gamble on crime. They require a player, which is a lifetime appointment. You play until you die, some people bet on you, some people bet against. He enlists, because, well, there’s a boring backstory about how his wife inspired him to be good, and he hasn’t looked back, so if he has a chance to do good, gosh darn it, even if the circumstances surrounding it are poor, he’s got to take it. Oh, and he can avenge his wife, and on top of that, he has a tip she might not actually be dead. Yes, that’s something that might happen.

The Player is pretty wooden. It’s very very silly, though not knowingly so. Network shows are so obviously predictable and the writing is hackneyed. I could call some of the many, many gambling puns campy, but that’s giving the writers too much credit. Something this silly and over the top needs to have really good action scenes and be a hell of a lot of fun to work and The Player is neither.

Will I watch it again? No. There were some mediocre action scenes. But that’s about it. It’s not the worst, but you can get what it gives you, elsewhere and better, if that’s what you want.

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