Huntedstars Melissa George (whom some of us will always revere as Gabriel Byrne’s most pouty-lipped patient on HBO’s In Treatment) as Sam Hunter, employee of a private investigative company called Byzantium. The new series, which premiered Friday night, wants to be, as the company name suggests, a byzantine thriller about betrayal, deception, spying, fighting, and poutiness. Created by X-Files/Lone Gunman/Millennium writer-producer Frank Spotnitz, Hunted succeeds as a fun, junky thriller, just the sort of thing the current Cinemax directive (“We will make Strike Back a hit!”) exists to offer.
George’s Sam was fake-killed, then nearly real-killed, in the premiere episode. She mends, subsisting on Spam, with suspicions: Was she set up for death by her own company? There is much talk about moles in this series, a co-production of Cinemax and BBC One, and shot in various European locations. As Sam pondered, she resumed work, infiltrating the family of a wealthy, sadistic fellow (Game of Thrones‘ Patrick Malahide), whom Byzantium correctly suspects wants to acquire a hydroelectric dam in Pakistan for some nefarious purpose.
Really, the plot doesn’t matter as much as the visuals. George and her stunt double do a lot of excellent close-in, Bourne-movie-style fighting (lots of elbows, palm strikes, hits to the throat, bones snapped). She will also become the sultriest tutor a young man’s ever had. There’s also Sam’s personal life — her lover (who may be the mole), the baby she lost, the flashbacks to her mom who was murdered. All of this was crammed into the first hour, which I felt both a bit rushed and a bit over-stuffed.
But that’s what pilots do — set up the series, sometimes to excess. I was glad, therefore, that I was sent future episodes of Hunted, and can report that the next few hours shape up nicely — lots of slick suspense, well-turned violence, and a delightful air of menace hanging over everything Sam does, including brushing her hair. I recommend that you give this a few weeks.
Did anyone watch Hunted?