Review By Joe Thompson
Premiering with the most well executed and gripping pilot I’ve seen this summer (and maybe even this year) is Mr. Robot, the latest addition to the USA network’s lineup.
Mr. Robot is the story of a young antisocial computer programmer, Elliot (Rami Malek), who works as a cyber security engineer, but moonlights as a kind of vigilante hacker. There are quite a few echoes of Fight Club as we slowly learn more about Elliot, but there’s far more to his makeup than Edward Norton’s character. Elliot seems drawn to hack people, to discover all their dirty digital secrets and file them away in an extensive archive.
During a particular nasty cyber attack on E-Corp, dubbed “Evil Corp” by our players, Elliot becomes a recruiting focus for Mr. Robot, the titular character and renegade hacker played by Christian Slater. Elliot just happens to be in a strategic location to help Mr. Robot achieve his endgame, placing Elliot at a crossroads…with an extra layer. Elliot isn’t completely certain that everything he is experiencing is real.
Created by Sam Esmail with a pilot expertly directed by Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Mr.Robot delivers a tightly constructed narrative stuffed with tense paranoia. Even scenes steeped in technical jargon, featuring Elliot clacking away franticaly on a computer keep us on the edge of our seats. The show’s muted color palette adds to the atmosphere and tone. And best of all, everything about the world of Mr. Robot begs to be known. You hear it a lot, but this truly is a world I would love to see explored. The pilot offers numerous opportunities and paths for stories to be told.
Rami Malek delivers a wonderful performance that comes off like a balancing act between fear and pride. Much of Mr. Robot is told through Elliot’s voice over, something that usually turns me off quickly, but Mr. Robot offers up the goods, gripping the audience quickly and not letting go.
My hope is that this series can keep up the pace this season, carrying this energy and strength through the year.
Watch the pilot here.
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