Netflix has been trying for a while to seize the flag from several other networks that have been carving their names for decades. Now, they’re creating amazing Christmas and family content that was once the territory of Hallmark, and they are also trying to create a space where they create the best thrillers, just like HBO has been doing for decades.
The result of this initiative has been spotty. Some shows, both fiction and documentary, don’t really hit the mark at creating compelling stories and mystery, while others have quickly become classic. It is hard to make a formula click, but Netflix will keep trying. On this occasion, they are following the True Detective formula, by creating a crime thriller and having named talent in the main roles. Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes join already proven talent behind the cameras, the creators of Narcos and Narcos: Mexico.
True Story is a miniseries directed by Stephen Williams and Hanelle Culpepper and stars Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes in the title roles of Kid and Carlton. Kid is a famous and successful actor and comedian, while his older brother, Carlton, is a mess of a man, owing money to everyone, and seeming more like a parasite than anything else. When a girl dies inside Kid’s hotel room, the two brothers begin a series of misadventures in order to cover up the incident that could ruin Kid’s career forever.
True Story can be confusing at times. It is clear that Hart is performing a version of himself in the show, and the line between the characters and the celebrity is sometimes blurry. This is an interesting aspect of the show, for sure, but one that never has the time to develop as it should. Hart is a very good comedian. He excels at being funny, but when taking on a series role like this one, it is very clear he lacks the gravitas to pull off the most emotional moments. They feel fake and forced.
When the character of Kid needs to be funny, then you can see that that is the role Hart was born to do. He excels at being charismatic and professional when it comes to presenting the idea of what a comedian is. It is very commendable to see Hart taking on a role like this. It is out of his comfort zone, and it is a complete challenge for him as an actor. He isn’t there, yet. But this is only the first step.
On the other side of the coin is Wesley Snipes. Once upon a time, Snipes was a major superstar. Actually, he can be made responsible for making superhero movies great at the turn of the century. His run as Blade is still legendary and people remember him very fondly. On another interesting note about the show, Snipes is also channeling part of his persona into the character he plays. Carlton is a star fallen from grace, someone that could have been big for a long time, but whose decisions have burned him time and time again.
It is great to see Snipes once again on screen. Unlike Hart, Snipes really knows how to pull off the most serious dramatic moments. It really is a testament to his talent, and it would be really fun to see him using this show as a jumping stage to make a comeback. He needs it, and we need it too.
On a technical level, the show is very well shot, and it looks fine but don’t think you will see some amazing cinematography here, or even amazing sets. The show feels cheap in certain aspects, but it is fine, because the type of story that is being told doesn’t really need a huge budget or tons of CGI visuals.
The plot is always very important in this type of show because it is what will cause emotion, wonder, and curiosity. Sadly, from the turning point of the first episode, the twists and turns only serve to delay the inevitable outcome. Everything is too predictable, and some of the characters that are used as plot devices really feel like pieces on a chess board instead of actual three-dimensional beings. At the end, the plot is entertaining enough. Those who are familiar with this type of story, on the other hand, will find themselves simply waiting for the characters to catch up.
The miniseries format doesn’t allow for a second season, but it is better that way. The writing is weak enough that another installment would only be worse than this. With just one season, True Story has the chance to leave on the highest note possible for the quality of its content.
Maybe another season with other actors and better writing will have better results, but for what it is, this is fine.