TV Review - Person of Interest

Jonathan Nolan created this series. Jonathan Nolan is the brother of Christopher Nolan, the director of Memento and The Dark Knight. Jonathan Nolan helped to write both those movies, and his influence is very much felt, as elements from those movies, themes and characteristics, show up here. But, this series reminds me less of those movies and more of another TV series, one from the 80s.

Jim Caviezal (Passion of the Christ) plays John Reese, a man who used to work for the government. We're not exactly sure in what capacity, but he's well-trained in espionage and armed as well as unarmed combat. He's recruited by Mr. Finch, played by Michael Emerson (Lost), a very wealthy computer programmer to help him fight crime. They do so with advanced technology.

In the 1980s, there was another TV series where a man who was well-trained and who worked for the government got hired by a wealthy man and they used advanced technology to fight crime. The series was called Knight Rider. The only difference is instead of a black, Pontiac Trans Am with a sassy sense of humor, Reese and Finch have basically a psychic Internet program that doesn't talk.

The premise is that Finch's computer program can predict future crimes à la Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. Finch doesn't talk to the program, which he calls "the machine." It merely generates a list of social security numbers and from that Reese and Finch have to determine what the future crime is.

It basically involves a bunch of stalking. Reese and Finch stalk people and most often it's people who are connected to the criminal justice system like lawyers or judges. It's easier then to link these people to future crimes. It's not six degrees of separation. It's more like one degree of separation. It's at times so easy that I still haven't felt what's so great about Finch's machine.

Finch designed it to find terrorists. I think I'd prefer it do that, instead of the crimes that are already being solved on a weekly basis by a half-dozen other crime shows. To keep the show's budget from looking like one of Christopher Nolan's movies, I suppose the writers and producers can't go for international espionage or global terrorism. Therefore, the show is confined to having Reese running around New York and having Finch limping around the city streets too.

We do get Finch often using martial arts or wielding a gun, but I have yet to see anything really clever beyond the premise. There was a scene in the first episode where à la The Dark Knight, Finch uses cell phones as a way of listening and tracking people. Other than that, the use of technology seems flat. There are a lot of shots in each episode of surveillance cameras and Finch is constantly staring at a computer screen, but that's about it.

I would have hoped that this show was a bit smarter. There's also mystery surrounding the back stories of both Reese and Finch and I'm not sure that this serves the show that well. Obviously, they're two people that care, but they might as well be machines themselves. Taraji P. Henson is wasted as a NYPD detective who is essentially chasing Reese, trying to figure out who he is and picking up the pieces of his vigilantism.

Based on its elements, I was hoping for a Dark Knight Rider adventure, but it simply doesn't have the power. It doesn't have the daring of The Dark Knight or even the smarts of Knight Rider.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-PG.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursdays at 9PM on CBS.


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