Profound and mesmerising, Mr. Robot is a deep examination of how the new technological age affects our current modern society, either accelerating it for the better or darkening it for the worst. It’s also an intense and psychologically detailed human drama, and what Series Creator Sam Esmail has done perfectly is create a drama that, in a dark and disturbing way, show how much humanity has evolved in a superficial way, which is definitely (and perhaps morbidly) current, seeing as we are now slightly in modern ages ahead of modern ages. It also cleverly tackles real weighty themes of isolation, obsession, addiction, dysfunction, abuse of power and greed, and doing them all without being exploitative or too on the nose.
Within the technological world, ambition and power is at the centre of it, and as each and every facet of our mundane human lives is continuously consumed by information, that saturation and breach of privacy gets controlled and manipulated by people with amplified efficiency, and that is definitely the case with this series. There is no clear black or white with any of these characters, there’s only a morally grey area. We have the group of hackers known as “fsociety”, that are always operating in the dark and on the outside, the world’s conglomerate puppet masters in E-Corp, and the working middle-men that are caught in the crossfire. At the centre is Elliot Alderson, a troubled young man that ends up becoming the key player in setting in motion and orchestrating the fate of the world’s digital and social age.
In terms of how it tackles character development and details, story arcs, and its stark representation of the modern world, this show succeeds with flying colours by proving to be immensely thoughtful and thought provoking. The show is swimming in a sea of darkness, with no light touches to be found. It’s super serious, but what’s astounding is that it never becomes dreary or dull as a result of that. Unapologetically, every aspect of the show is as sharp as a knife; it’s edgy and gritty, yet also immensely enjoyable, intelligently written, expertly directed and powerfully raw. While the main ultimate twist can be easily predictable from a mile away and can fizzle out for some, there are plenty of other surprises to fall back on, plus strong performances.
Having first impressed in the excellent Until Dawn video game last year, Rami Malek is a mesmerising screen presence, as the unassuming lead protagonist. From the personal ramblings, to the internal monologues, to the emotional breakdowns, Malek nails every single emotion and nuance of Elliot’s character, and gives a career-best performance. As the titular character, Christian Slater is superb, bringing a unique dynamic energy to the part that it’s almost impossible to take your eyes off him. The rest of the supporting cast are all excellent as well, particularly Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström and Stephanie Corneliussen, with each one bringing something new and exciting to the mix.
Another aspect of the show that excels is in its production design and direction. Its attention to detail is spotless and is something the show takes full advantage of, as each and every area or location has meaning or a purpose to the narrative. The direction is very unusual, yet also visually striking. The way certain characters like Elliot are framed, often makes them look small against a big, sweeping and consuming world. The cinematography by Tim Ives is masterful and makes the shots quite cinematic and it’s all edited together beautifully, plus its soundtrack is nothing short of genius and Mac Quayle’s music is very reminiscent of the haunting scores of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).
As it stands, Mr. Robot is easily the best, and smartest, new show to hit TV in the past few years, being atmospheric, thought provoking, honest, and believable. It perfectly blends cold technology with raw humanity, which makes it all the more unique. It’s wonderfully constructed, the performances are universally terrific, and the writing’s intelligent, which makes the story consistently exciting. It’s a mature, darkly engrossing piece of genre fiction that further demonstrates why television is a writer's medium.
MR. ROBOT – SEASON 1 / CERT: TBC / DIRECTORS: NIELS ARDEN OPLEV, SAM ESMAIL, JIM MCKAY, NISHA GANATRA, DEBORAH CHOW, CHRISTOPH SCHREWE, TRICIA BROCK / SCREENPLAY: SAM ESMAIL, ADAM PENN, DAVID ISERSON, KYLE BRADSTREET, KATE ERICKSON, RANDOLPH LEON / STARRING: RAMI MALEK, CHRISTIAN SLATER, CARLY CHAIKIN, PORTIA DOUBLEDAY, MARTIN WALLSTRÖM / RELEASE DATE: 11TH APRIL