Power review: A crime show that’s potent but not quite powerful

Review

Power, the crime show from CBS about a famous night-club owner who leads a double life as a drug kingpin but years to build a legitimate business empire at the same time, has several stock elements that should make for a riveting dramatic take on what could be best-described as a swanky, hip version of the masterpiece that was Breaking Bad. And while creator Courtney Kemp Agboh’s show doesn’t quite measure up to the delicious dread on display in Breaking Bad, it’s smart play of stock elements commonly observed in criminal yarns offer enough engagement for less-demanding viewers looking out for a entertaining piece that strikes a balance between family dynamics, gangster interplay, violence, sensuality, and dark storytelling.

However, for all the talks about risk-taking and deadly struggle between the characters, you do wish that the creator, writers, and showrunners exhibited the same traits to elevate Power above the realm of mere engagement. Instead, they mostly decide to play it safe, never quite looking beyond the stock elements (yes, we’re using the term a lot because there’s a lot of it in the show), thus, dishing out a crime-drama that’s admittedly high n entertaining us with criminal aspect, but falls quite short of intriguing us with deadly dramatic chops.

A major reason why Power struggles with its dramatization is because of how one-dimensional its characters actually are beneath their layered facade. It also doesn’t help that none of the actors, including the lead, Omari Hardwick, play their roles strictly by the numbers. Additionally, for all the allusion of deadly games, we see the show sticking to a fairly predictable path most of the time, devoid of and mystery or suspense underneath its stylish exterior. Technically though, it’s on top of its game, be it the editing, camerawork, or production design.

That’s not to say Power isn’t worth your time, but only provided you have time to spare. As mentioned earlier, it’s more than engaging for its style, darkness, gang lore, and familial ties. If only the style was backed with enough of substance, the darkness was accompanied by sufficient dread, the gang lore broke some new ground in gang politics, and the family ties were peppered with more struggle, Power may have deserved a place as a crime show high up on your watch-list.

Movified Rating: 2.5/5 (based on the first two seasons)

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