Section 20 is back on the case in Bangkok, Thailand when the UK ambassador’s daughter, Chloe (Eliza Bennett) is kidnapped.
Let’s bitch it out…
Ah it’s good to have the boys back. After an injury sidelined series star Sullivan Stapleton, the final season of Strike Back was delayed, so it’s been quite some time since we’ve had an adventure with Section 20.
Lucky for us the opening scene is classic Strike Back: rough and tumble action that’s well-shot and, as always, explosive. It’s a good re-introduction to the world of the show, where Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Scott (Stapleton) can dispatch a zillion baddies without much more than a scratch. Here, the direction is much more crisp than season’s past, and the addition of go-pro footage in the scene when Scott takes out a motorcycle goon helps to make us feel like we’re right in the middle of the action.
If the opening scene is the bar burner, the final action sequence in the Thai slums is a close second. I’ll admit that I would have loved to see more hand to hand combat in the tight quarters instead of a more traditional shoot-out, though I’ll concede that gun play is this series’ bread and butter. There’s a great deal of tension as the boys make their way down the narrow, maze-like street, especially since we already know what’s waiting for them. Obviously Strike Back trades on our knowledge that Stonebridge and Scott are virtually invincible, so it’s no surprise that they survive, but this action sequence is still exciting, especially once the bombs start to drop from the tin roofs. Can’t complain about this well-executed climax.
As for the story line, the series keeps things personal in its opening hour. The decision to center the case around Locke (Robson Green)’s relationship with UK ambassador Robert Foster (Tim McInnerny) is smart because it gives Green something to do aside from bark orders in the command tent. I was mildly disappointed that Foster’s advisor, Mei Foster (Michelle Yeoh) doesn’t have more to do, although I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s secretly in the know about the true identity of the baddie who is directing Ray McQueen (Max Beesley). You don’t hire someone like Yeoh solely to deliver dialogue and exposition; you hire her to act and kick ass. Expect to see Mei get in on the action in the (hopefully near) future.
By the end of the premiere, the initial threat has been resolved: Chloe is rescued and McQueen is in custody. The explosion in the embassy – involving North Korea, no less – confirms that this is only the beginning of a much larger mysterious conflict. What initially appeared to be nothing more than a kidnapping, or possibly a human trafficking ring, turns out to be a small piece of something much bigger.
Classic Strike Back. It’s good to have you back, boys.
- It’s disappointing to see Scott dote over Richmond’s (Michelle Lukes) undercover stint in the Thai club and then immediately see her punched out and in need of a rescue. Richmond certainly makes up for it when she helps Stonebridge by taking out McQueen’s behemoth of a security guard in the climactic hand to hand fight scene, but her scene in the club is just frustrating.
- Similarly Kim Martinez (Milauna Jackson) gets a brief moment in the sun when she assists Stonebridge in the opening scene, but by episode’s end, she’s reducing to coordinating communications. As much as I like this series, it does tend to be a little sexist when it comes to the action, no?
- The always memorable credits/theme song has been abbreviated for this final season. Whose bad decision was this?!
- Scott (to Richmond): “I’ll debrief you later.” Classic 80s Bond film groaner.
Your turn: what did you think of the premiere? Are you glad to have the boys back? Were you surprised when they don’t completely save the day? Hoping that Yeoh gets more to do? What’s the plot behind the bombing of the North Koreans? Sound off below, but please refrain from discussing upcoming episodes if you’ve been watching in the UK.
Strike Back airs Fridays at 10pm EST on Cinemax