Review: Person of Interest - Season 1 / Cert: TBA / Director: Various / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P.Henson / Release Date: March 18th
Person of Interest aired in the UK on Channel 5 last year and was met with an overwhelmingly positive critical response. This intriguing show is brought to you by Christopher (The Dark Knight) Nolan’s brother, Jonathan Nolan. Therefore, you would be hoping for some good twists, great performances and a compelling narrative right? Well, Person of Interest offers us even more.
Jim Caviezel plays John Reese, an ex-government worker who is now living life on the streets since the death of his former lover, Jessica. After a violent incident on a subway train, he becomes a person of interest to both the NYPD, fronted by Detective Carter (Henson), and a mysterious figure named Mr. Finch (Lost’s Michael Emerson). Mr. Finch enlists Reese’s help on a very important project. After 9/11, Finch built a machine to prevent the same thing from happening again. However, instead of simply picking up terrorist activity, the machine also homes in on “irrelevant” criminality such as the plotting of murders or kidnappings, and it gives out by the numbers of people surrounded by danger. With the guilt of not being able to help playing on Finch’s conscience, he enlists Mr. Reece to assist the “irrelevant” people that the machine detects. He wants Reese to prevent these events from happening and find out who is involved. Describing himself as a “concerned third party”, Finch gives Reese the chance to save people in time – a way of redeeming himself for being too late for Jessica. What adds to the confusion, though, is that it is unclear whether the people on Finch’s list will become the victims or will in fact be the perpetrators.
That is simply the basic premise of the show. Throughout 22 episodes, Nolan provides us with plenty of twists. What begins as just a good show really grows into itself as the series continues, becoming almost addictive. By the fourth episode, you'll be hooked. One of the show’s most intriguing points is the machine itself. It seems as though Nolan is sending us messages about the implications of technology and advising us of how useful it is but also how dangerous it can be. This show is sure to provoke some government paranoia in its viewers; surveillance and voyeurism are crucial themes to the series.
Each episode focuses on a different person who needs help or must be stopped. There are also several unique stories, such as one episode in which the number comes up for a girl who is presumed dead. Although each episode is centralized on a different number, there are a few ongoing compelling narrative strands that make it difficult to stop watching. This is the bonus of the DVD, you can watch it all in one go, guilt free. As the series develops, the partnership between Reese and Finch becomes one of the most compelling aspects to the show, with Nolan providing us with just the right amount of comedic moments between the two protagonists. Although the characters are very different, they are both ultimately alone. Similarly, towards the end of the series, much of Reese’s past is disclosed – his work in the government, how the government deceived him – and we discover more about his relationship with Jessica, which helps us to identify with him even more. We are given a few surprising secrets about Finch but they are kept minimal. Hopefully, Season 2 will give us more information about the mysterious intellectual.
Just as he was on Lost, Michael Emerson is a mesmerising and intriguing presence. Caviezel is similarly good as Reese. He's the perfect leading man for this type of attractive and athletic role – a hero who is cunning, brace and willing to get his hands dirty. There also needs to be a nod here to Taraji P.Henson who plays Detective Carter. She is fantastic in her role, a well developed female character providing a good balance to Finch and Reese.
The final episodes push the drama to its limits as the Feds begin to close in on Reese and someone comes close to discovering the secret Finch has worked so hard to keep hidden. The series finale is even more action-packed than usual and full of dramatic surprises. It would be hard to overstress the brilliance of the show – its writing, the performances from both the leading and the carefully selected guest stars, the cool and edgy soundtrack, the compelling visual style and unusual cinematography. It's one of the best government-focused television shows since Fox’s 24… along with Homeland of course.
Extras: Original Broadcast Pilot / Commentaries / Living in an Age of Surveillance Featurette / Gag Reel