Culprits is a new Disney+ drama – on Hulu in the US – and if it has one thing going for it, it delivers an engaging opening to the episodes, the first one setting out its stall in terms of a rather violent plot.
But that can’t affect our lead, Joe Petrus (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett – Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks), can it? He can’t be a gun-toting action man, surely, since he’s in a lovey-dovey, kissy-kissy relationship, and planning to open a shop in town, for which he wants to be a community hub. Well, that’s in the present.
Three years ago, they took part in a heist, and now – as the opener gets across early – potentially, they’re being killed one by one, and whoever’s doing this is remorseless.
Over time, the plot is drip-fed between now, before and during the heist, where we find he was known as David Marking, and Gemma Arterton‘s (Funny Woman) in charge as Dianne, offering a bunch of rag-tag individuals the chance to do a one-time job, the details will be unknown until he accepts. He’ll make a lot of money, but… he’ll have to leave his current life behind.
Along the way, there’s a situation regarding a bin lorry, which seems incredibly dangerous, plus before long, the cops are on his tail, but he’ll make sure not to tell anyone, right?
Episode 2 starts with a Reservoir Dogs feel, as it’s post-heist, with Joe driving his car away from the scene, and there’s someone in the back seat who’s bleeding out, and pleading to go to the hospital. And I thought this part was shot in Manchester, as the streets are very familiar, but other streets in the same scene are from somewhere else. But then given how each of them are known by individual names, with Dianne as Brain, others as Fixer, Soldier and with Joe as Muscle, this cements what is less of a Tarantino-style feel, and more of a ‘borrowing far too much’, to be polite.
Plus, they’re not meant to use real names on the job, although Gemma does on one occasion, so… Mr White/Larry?
With Culprits, I’d rather have more of the on-the-job heist action, but we get too much of Joe’s post-heist life, living a happy family existence, all of which just feels like a soap opera. I’ve only seen two episodes so far, but it does feel a bit cliched with “the past catches up with you” sort-of nonsense.
As for the acting, Gemma is cool as a cucumber, but apart from the occasional engaging segment – such as the opening scene of the second episode, so far, Culprits is something I can take or leave.
Culprits begins on Wednesday November 8th Disney+.
Series Directors: J Blakeson, Claire Oakley
Producer: Morenike Williams
Created for TV: J Blakeson
Writers: J Blakeson, Nadia Latif, Rose Lewenstein, James McCarthy, Joana Nastari, Alex Straker
Music: Marc Canham
Joe Petrus: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Dianne: Gemma Arterton
Soldier: Laura Morgan
Devi: Ned Dennehy
Frankie: Maria Nash
Bud: Baeyen Hoffman
Fused: Mark Field
Harry Metcalf: Grant Masters
Taylor Bedrosian: Jayden Kirton
Kevlar: Jonathan Ojinnaka
Vincent: Eddie Izzard
Psycho: Niamh Algar
Elderly Crime Head: Michael Culkin
Jules: Kevin Vidal
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.