New CBS crime drama “Person of Interest” fails to hold its own interest between campy fight scenes and blasé plot points, despite ideal match-ups in acting, writing and producing.
A show meant to involve all the good stuff — grit, guns and government conspiracies, the “Person of Interest” pilot tries a lot and succeeds with little.
The show has all the right elements for a surefire hit, blending conspiratorial thriller with Big Brother paranoia.
But there isn’t much glue holding things together.
An ex-CIA agent played by Jim Cavaziel teams up with a mysterious billionaire (the masterful Michael Emerson) to prevent crimes before they happen, working off tips from a magical machine created for the government to prevent terrorist attacks after Sept. 11.
Where “24” gave us a post-9/11 real American hero, “Person of Interest” gives us an alcoholic bum who cleans up overnight and starts shooting people in the knee while wearing snazzy dress suits.
“24” succeeded in making the threat of terrorism incredibly real and close to home. It kept me on the edge of my seat with the tick-tock pacing, strategic battle scenes and a stellar ensemble cast.
“Person of Interest” does none of that.
Motivation for the two protagonists is weak at best and it’s unclear why these two men want to save people (and the world, presumably) so badly. We’re left to believe its because they’ve both lost someone, but that’s about all that’s offered.
Not to mention, Caviezel’s character slings a stolen machine gun around in broad daylight and loads it up in the back of a New York taxicab. Why?
So he can safely spy on some dirty cops to save or incriminate a woman he doesn’t know based on a social security number some creepy billionaire scientist gave him. Believe that!
The show was created by Jonathan Nolan, who is also the lead writer. If the name sounds familiar that’s because he is brother to renowned director Christopher Nolan. The two have worked together on the “Dark Knight” movies, “Memento” and plenty other critical and financial hits. Unfortunately for “Person of Interest“, there is no thought-provoking dialogue or real-world grittiness to be found.
Caviezel is not bad as the brooding John Reese, but his performance in the pilot doesn’t come close to what I watched in the excellent 2009 AMC miniseries “The Prisoner“.
Emerson, better known as Benjamin Linus from “LOST“, feels like he’s watering down the same stark and cryptic guru. All-knowing and all-confident, with a dark past and unknown loyalty.
To round off the talented team, the one and only J.J. Abrams is executive producer. That’s right, the guy who brought us “LOST”, “Alias”, “Cloverfield”, “Super 8”, the “Star Trek” reboot and “Fringe” is on board too.
J.J., this is strike two.
Last year’s “Undercovers” wasn’t great either. Maybe you should stick to movies for a while. I mean, “Fringe” is still great, but it feels like you’re not even trying.
“Person of Interest” is “Enemy of the State” meets “Minority Report”, with none of what made either of those movies good. No pre-cogs or laser-engraved name balls, no hologram computers or people freaked out and on the run, nervously thinking they’re being watched.
Instead, the buzzworthy show jumps between too many events in the first hour and feels campy and implausible.
Like when Reese hijacks a gang’s weapons by shooting them all in the knees with their own gun, loading up a rifle in a New York taxicab and slinging the gun under his peacoat in an alleyway like somebody isn’t going to notice.
You can’t (shouldn’t?) judge a book by it’s first few pages, but “Person of Interest” better get a lot better in the next two episodes if it plans to 1. stay on air and 2. have me keep tuning in.