TV Review - Mr. Robot

The fourth episode, which is as far as I've seen, makes the TV series ultimately about a drug addict who's brilliant with computers and the Internet. He's a hacker of the highest order, but he's extremely anti-social, unlikeable, and I don't want to sit for another hour, watching his twitchy, drug addict behavior as he lords his cyber-skills over everyone in the most preachy and judgmental way, while also planning or at least not reporting what was going to be a terrorist attack.

Rami Malek (Short Term 12 and Night at the Museum) stars as Elliot, an employee for a cyber-security firm called Allsafe, but he has a lot of problems with interacting with people. He basically doesn't. He focuses on his work, which he does in spite of his drug addiction. He narrates all of this with very snide and snarky comments. He also has a very arrogant, if not robotic tone, as he acts like a vigilante of the world-wide-web.

If a person is lying or committing a crime or some grievous offense in Elliot's mind, he sets out either to destroy them or have them arrested. In the first, three episodes, he's like the love child of the two main characters in CBS' Scorpion and Showtime's Dexter. In the fourth episode, things take a turn, still continuing down the same path but to a more extreme degree.

Christian Slater (True Romance and Nymphomaniac) co-stars as Mr. Robot, a fellow, older hacker or computer expert who also could be classified as a vigilante or cyber-terrorist. Mr. Robot runs a group of hackers or cyber-terrorists, out of Coney Island, known as fsociety, which has double meanings. He wants to recruit Elliot, in a warped version of Ocean's Eleven, where he's gathering a team for what could be seen as a kind of heist.

In his mind, Mr. Robot is a kind of Robin Hood but of digital debt. His focus is taking down a so-called, evil corporation, literally called E-Corp, which is short for Evil Corp. This name is used and spoken in this series unironically. Yet, it underlines writer Sam Esmail's dark and demented fantasy, as exactly that, a fantasy where damaged and delusional people think themselves heroes.

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the man who made the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, this series is similar in look and tone as that 2009 film. Like David Fincher's series House of Cards, this show is very cynical, perhaps too much so. It has characters for whom we can hope like Gideon, played by Michel Gill who had the role of the president in House of Cards, and Angela, played by Portia Doubleday (Youth in Revolt and Her). Gideon is Elliot's older, gay boss, and Angela is his co-worker, friend and possible love interest who is dating a guy Elliot hates.

It might be interesting to see where the series ends up, but watching it in the interim could be and feels like a real chore. The cynicism and demented nature are too much for me to bare. I might check out the finale but not much else in between for this show.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Wednesay at 10PM on USA.


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