Anthrax ‘Review – The Hollywood Reporter

In television as in film, everything needs to be franchised, even if that means trying to franchise fanciful frameworks like “Authorities Hunt for Famous Killers.” ” or “Notorious stalkers.”

Therefore, it is not surprising that National Geographic decided to make miniseries in 2019 Hot zone, based on a book by Richard Preston that spoke very specifically about dengue, and made it the disease form of the year. And funny in a way that’s not funny is NatGeo’s Hot zone: anthrax really feels less like the first season of Hot zone and like a faint amalgamation of the previous random opposite attributes Manhunt and Dirty John.

Hot zone: anthrax

Key point

Weakened by the thin and mysterious characters of the numbers.

Instead of the visceral mix of bodily horror and bio quizzes like the first season, Hot zone: anthrax is a weakly structured cat-and-mouse game combined with a crude psychological profile of an insecure scary white dude. There’s something to be said for Tony Goldwyn’s unsettling performance and for Daniel Dae Kim’s solid work in a rare lead role, but this six-episode limited run is entirely skippable.

What’s disappointing is that there’s an interesting idea at the root of Kelly Souders & Brian Peterson’s approach here. In 2001, shortly after 9/11, five people were killed in a series of mail attacks. We were crushed with paranoia, and the idea that any envelope might contain a white powder that could kill us only added another layer of fear. For a few weeks, anthrax was all the people were talking about.

Then we stopped. When I watched Hot zone: anthrax, some details flooded into me, but before watching, I can’t tell you what to deal with an anthrax panic attack. Can we catch the killer? How? And how did we lose track of the story?

These are all fascinating questions that don’t exactly have an answer here, but they are answered in the most formulaic way possible. The episodes begin with a imperative, “Certain characters, scenes, and dialogues were imagined or created for dramatic purposes”, but I would be curious where the line between “invented” is. ” and “imagined”, for neither imagination is clear. Instead, one of the more complex investigations over the years in the FBI’s history was centered around a little detective work from a few heroic FBI agents whose names might be “Man Composite Agent,” “Woman Composite Agent” and “Young composite agent that anyone can explain everything.”

In this case, Matthew Ryker (Kim) is the central character. He is a microbiologist turned agent and he was near the Pentagon on 9/11, leading to PTSD marking his only true personality trait. Dawn Olivieri is Dani Toretti, a behaviorist so overwritten that at one point when she went to Ryker’s apartment and grabbed a beer from his fridge, I rationalized it, “Of course she’s flirting with him, she doesn’t have a home of her own. ” Ian Colletti plays the third agent, whose personality is limited to his willingness to help.

Dylan Baker shows up as their FBI generalist boss who likes to allude to Robert Mueller and fill the gap between being helpful and being a hindrance. Baker, incidentally, is one of those actors who always make things better. At the same time, his arc in American is a better version of Hot zone compared to what NatGeo could hope to create, so perhaps leaving him here for comparison isn’t ideal.

Goldwyn is actually most talked about as Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist whose mustache, disruptive behavior around women, and gun range in the basement make him immediately suspicious.

Basically, have three people watch over the email and follow up to two or three easy-to-understand clues about an alleged culprit directly from a Criminal thought episode. The conflict arose not from their investigation, but from a fundamental desire to wage war on Iraq, one of which the truth was ultimately a secondary concern. Somehow the case took seven years to crack, which is probably why most viewers won’t remember how it ended (and I guarantee most viewers won’t understand either). the way the movie conveys time). Every now and then, a TV in the background brings up a piece of news and I’m like, “Oh, that happened in 2004 so it must be a few years later.” Otherwise, I would never have guessed.

With bureaucratic resistance as the main villains and a trio of composites limited to being imagined as our heroes, Hot zone becomes the story of Bruce Ivins in its second half. With his God-complexity and variety of motherly issues, Bruce fits every stereotype of lone doubt and gives Goldwyn a lot of compelling material to play with, more about the character’s way of acting. object rather than the type of acting resume he was built upon. Goldwyn has so many different tough, manipulative, manipulative moments that I’m starting to feel sorry for Kim and his much more limited range of heroic yet powerful attributes. I like that Olivieri at least has some sarcastic lines, although if you ask me for any other details about her character, I can’t.

In addition to very real Ivins and very fake composites, Hot zone: anthrax there are a few distracting celebrity cameos that serve no purpose other than distraction. Harry Hamlin appeared in two episodes as Tom Brokaw, and while he wasn’t exactly cast, there was logic in applying his ’80s sassy personality to a general news anchor character. I cannot similarly justify Enrico Colantoni’s presence, even more so in one episode that Rudy Giuliani is wrongly discovered.

The first season of Hot zone is a masterful thing, making the most of Ebola in cinema. An Ebola-based death is on the screen and you know exactly what Ebola is, exactly how it spreads, and exactly how it kills you. Heck, with its swirling structure, Ebola is even a photogenic virus. Here, the team of writers and directors couldn’t crack the anthrax. It makes people pale and cough, and in our moment of COVID consciousness, that would turn some viewers off instantly, but these six episodes are barely informative and just scary. a little bit. In other words, the season is not a good case for later installments of this series, regardless of who plays Dr. Hot zone: COVID.

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