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Hit & Run Series Review: Captivating, Intense, Brilliant- Cinema express

Hit & Run Series Review: Captivating, Intense, Brilliant

An intense, powerful show on international espionage shrouded in intrigue and mystery

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Published: 08th August 2021

From the critically-acclaimed creators of Fauda comes another cracker of a show. Hit & Run bases its premise on what seems, for all intents and purposes, a random act. And that random act (not so random, after all) sets in motion a series of complex and intriguing events that span two countries with close ties. With an espionage show of this nature (involvement of powerful Governments, intelligence agencies of ostensible allies attempting to undercut each other, treachery at every conceivable corner, and the truth taking a severe beating) you wonder if this could be another cliché waiting to happen. The subject matter of innumerable spy thrillers has been their undoing over the years. Most of them fall into the seen it all before category. To add to that, if the handling of the story and acting are below par, it’s curtains for an already-crowded genre. In that regard, Hit & Run is most certainly an anomaly.

Created by: Avi Issacharoff (9 episodes), Dawn Prestwich (9 episodes), Lior Raz (9 episodes), Nicole Yorkin (9 episodes), Jessica Brickman (1 episode), Ali Selim (unknown episodes)

Directed by: Mike Barker (4 episodes), Neasa Hardiman (3 episodes), Rotem Shamir (2 episodes)

Cast: Lior Raz, Lior Ashkenazi, Kaelen Ohm, Moran Rosenblatt, Gregg Henry, Gal Toren, Sanaa Lathan 

Streaming on: Netflix 

Rating: 4/5

While the suspense and pacing are par excellence, it is the treatment that is just something else. Doesn’t hurt that you have a 9-part (45-60 minutes per episode) first season to build tension and character! The plot makes a good impression, overall - complex and convoluted, as the story demands. A few of the web of deceit and nothing is as it seems moments get a little incredulous every now and then, but for the most part, the events portrayed are highly plausible. 

The creators and writers are spot-on in their research of intelligence, showcasing how far Govt agencies are willing to go to gain the upper hand. Even the insidious undercutting going on between the Mossad and the CIA (not to mention Israel’s internal intelligence agency and America’s NSA) – the closest of close allies in the eyes of the world – is on point. There’s no love lost when it comes to national interest. That’s evidently clear here.

As the title of the show suggests, the primary plot commences with that one, singular moment. An American dancer by the name of Danielle Wexler (Kaelen Ohm) is run over and killed while crossing a street in Tel Aviv. She is married to Segev Azulai (Lior Raz), an Israeli tour guide with a teenage daughter from his previous marriage. When Segev hears the news, he is unable to come to terms with the sudden loss. Gaps start to emerge when he pieces together Danielle’s whereabouts on the day of the incident; she was on her way to the airport to board a flight bound for New York. What was she doing on the street? Whom was she visiting? Segev’s pregnant police officer cousin, Tali (Moran Rosenblatt), is in charge of the case, and provides him with as much first-hand information as possible.

Things take a turn for the worse when an intruder attempts to murder Segev at home. By the looks of it, this was a professional hitman. Segev starts to wonder if someone from his chequered past is trying to exact revenge in a roundabout manner. Prior to being an affable, history-loving tour guide, Segev was an IDF Special Forces officer who served abroad and committed various state-sponsored crimes. It makes sense for people to be after him. But where does his innocent wife fit into this gradually unfolding puzzle? If we connect this to Danielle’s strange parents (who fail to make it down from New York for the funeral), a man with ties to the national intelligence agency pretending to be a businessman, Danielle’s killers ending up in the US, a notorious local gangster brought in for questioning, Segev’s former, disgruntled Special Forces associate plotting from America, a socially inept best friend assisting Segev in New York, and a New York Magazine journalist invested in the story, what we get is a complicated yet thoroughly engaging narrative that builds with each successive episode.

The sense of intrigue and tension is pitch-perfect in Hit & Run. The build-up is impressive, and once in, you know you can expect some intelligent reveals to present themselves. The show has a tendency to be excessively violent, with our genial tour guide transforming into the ruthless persona he once was – a persona, as it appears, he has been running from for years. Segev is willing to use his training, his experience and his mounting anger to the fullest extent in order to extract the true meaning out of his wife’s elusive assassination. A fabulous Lior Raz (also one of the creators/writers) puts in an acting master class as the tortured and intense Segev Azulai. We empathise with his need to be a good man, a changed man, for the sake of his daughter and wife, but the latter’s murder succeeds in harnessing a darkness that was always embedded deep within. The show would like us to believe that such men are never really capable of escaping who they really are, and that a terrible past will come back to haunt you one way or the other.

The writing is another feature about Hit & Run that strikes you. The plot may be a complex maze of events and connections, and yet it differentiates itself as a character-driven narrative. Whether it is the primary characters or the minor ones, we are invested in their collective story. Two cases in point are Sanaa Lathan’s New York Magazine journalist Naomi Hicks and Moran Rosenblatt’s Tali Shapira, Segev’s police officer cousin. They are essential cogs in the machine, no doubt, but they’re not as important as Segev. The writers and creators have gone ahead and sketched them out so well that their side-stories come to the fore – as seen in Naomi’s strained relationship with her lawyer husband who can’t believe she is helping a dangerous ex, and Tali’s pregnancy struggles and the unexpected rekindling of an old relationship, all while being too close to the case involving her demanding cousin. 

You wouldn’t expect a show this serious to have any humour in it, so it took me by surprise when I was laughing at many of the New York scenes between Segev and Ron (Gal Toren). The latter is incredibly funny, not necessarily intending to be that way. One such instance takes place at Danielle’s memorial service in New York. As Segev introduces Ron to his in-laws, Ron goes off the tangent regarding a bout of pneumonia he once had (the primary reason Danielle’s parents failed to attend the funeral in Tel Aviv was because her mother had pneumonia). Owing to the abilities of Gal Toren, the character’s awkwardness in social settings is palpable, not to mention, a sight to behold.

To top it all off, the final episode ends on a knife edge. This cliffhanger of a show deserves a second season and more. To make a whole series on espionage that’s original, that’s authentic, that’s not run-of-the-mill, especially in this day and age, is a serious challenge. The makers, led by Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, have answered, and how!

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