USA spy drama ‘Treadstone’ is no ‘Bourne’ again thriller
USA is promoting its new spy series, “Treadstone,” by laying claim to a piece of Matt Damon’s big-screen “Bourne” franchise, courtesy of series co-producer Jeffrey Weiner, who’s worked on both projects.
That’s all well and good, but “Treadstone” isn’t going to make anyone forget Jason Bourne. Airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m., it’s built around a jumbled, confusing storyline underscored by scenes of amped up, cartoonish violence (cue the over-enthusiastic audio of bones snapping and blades cutting through flesh) and squealing-tires car chases and crashes. It’s all tied together with the murky photography that seems to be the go-to cinematic template for spy dramas. (The series was shot in Budapest.)
“Treadstone” jumps back and forth in time, from 1973 East Berlin to present-day, and borrows its MacGuffin from “The Manchurian Candidate.” Here, it’s “Frere Jacques” — instead of a game of solitaire — that triggers worldwide sleeper cells of brainwashed killer agents somehow linked to a North Korean missile program and a ’70s-era Soviet Union initiative called Cicada that was “designed to create human weapons.”
Or something like that.
The cast of characters both past and present includes CIA agent J. Randolph Bentley (Jeremy Irvine), a heroic Vietnam vet tasked with murdering an ex-Nazi doctor who’s manufacturing cold-blooded killers; Tara Coleman (Tracy Ifeachor), a discredited journalist who knows too much about North Korea’s secret missile plans; Doug McKenna (Brian J. Smith), a laid off oil rig worker susceptible to “Frere Jacques”; Soyun (Hyo Joo Han), a placid North Korean piano teacher drawn into the spy saga by uncontrollable impulses; and Petra, a KGB agent played in flashbacks and present-day by Emilia Schule and Gabrielle Scharnitzky, respectively.
The presence of veteran actors Michelle Forbes (“True Blood,” “The Killing”) and Omar Metwally (“The Affair,” “Mr. Robot”) as veteran CIA agents grounds the series somewhat (they’re always good) but I had a tough time tracking with the dense storyline (too many characters and too many plot tangents). The cast, meanwhile, is saddled with corny expository dialogue: “You let them take you and that gave me enough time to escape,” Bentley’s wartime pal says to him — while Cicada is described as “an unsanctioned black ops program run amok!” Ya think?
“Treadstone” premiered Oct. 15 and will air over the next nine weeks, giving viewers plenty of time to make up their own minds — but as spy dramas go, this one is better left out in the cold.
Source : Michael Starr Link