Utopia Review: John Cusack’s conspiracy thriller about a pandemic is a humdrum affair at the wrong time

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Show: Utopia

Cast: John Cusack, Sasha Lane, Rainn Wilson, Christopher Denham

Created: Gillian Flynn

OTT: Amazon Prime

Rating: 2.5 Moons

If there is a show more ill-suited to premiere at a time when the world is grappling and reeling under the havoc caused by the Coronavirus pandemic then its Amazon Prime’s Utopia. Created, written and executive produced by Gillian Flynn, the cynical conspiracy thriller stars John Cusack, Sasha Lane, Rainn Wilson, Christopher Denham.

The series follows a crew of nerds who come together to locate a comic book manuscript that they believe contains information about future pandemics. They are sure of this as the book’s precursor successfully predicted the SARS and MERS epidemics. Meanwhile, a shady organization called The Harvest is also trying to get its hand at the manuscript. The series’ mood is apocalyptic and the violence depicted nihilistic and brutal. The show makes you draw parallel to the current situation and is a disconcerting experience.

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Utopia is the name of the series as well as the comic book around which the entire story revolves and is based on the UK cult series of the same name. However, while the UK original featured a faceless organization as the antagonist, the US remake has John Cusack as the proverbial villain in his web debut. Cusack’s portrayal of the ‘villain’ Dr Kevin Christie is menacing and evil, a performance that rises above the humdrum treatment of the series. His performance is subtle and impeccable.

Christopher Denham as Arby impressed with his stellar act. He seems to be the most menacing guy on the show. Rainn Wilson plays an infuriatingly naïve Dr Michael Stearns who lends a sincerity to a story that does not have an arc. Sasha Lane’s Jessica Hyde is shabbily written and ends up as an irritating character instead of a feisty badass. Lane brings no nuance to the character and thereby lie her fault.

Utopia is not a documentary and hence should not be treated like that. The series’ drawback is its oversimplification that makes the audience predicts what is going to happen next from a million miles away. The UK’s Utopia was a stunning visual, but the American series is just half-baked.

 

PeepingMoon.com gives Utopia 2.5 Moons.

 

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