Sean Bean => Critics' Corner => Topic started by: patch on March 02, 2018, 12:00:03 AM

Title: 'The Oath' Reviews
Post by: patch on March 02, 2018, 12:00:03 AM
'The Oath' Review: Narratively Efficient, Visually Incompetent

It is starting to become a regular occurrence where an existing or new OTT service opts to get into the original scripted programming department. And, almost always, the results are mixed.

While Sony Pictures Television’s new series by way of in-house distributor Crackle falls into this “mixed” classification, it is not the reason many others have.

When a gang of dirty cops is uncovered by the F.B.I., they are assigned a handler as part of a deal to help bring down a larger criminal syndicate in exchange for their freedom. It is off this simple premise where The Oath finds its greatest strength.

Often, shows premiering directly on smaller OTT platforms feel like the scraps left behind by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. They just don’t hold water in a story sense and get lost in their one-note premises that go nowhere… but not The Oath.

Narratively, the show is on point and right in line with the high caliber cop dramas of decades past like The Shield and SouthLAnd. However, there is a glaring problem the series is suffering from that makes it hard to recommend.

It is almost unwatchable visually.

For a reason is hard to pin down, the show can’t find its footing stylistically, with the bulk of it existing in a skinny shutter shaky cam pallet (better known as the “Saving Private Ryan style”) during a lot of over or under-lit scenes depending on the time of day.

If the style was used sparingly or just without the added shaky cam Crackle would likely be holding up its first truly great original series. Unfortunately, all that can be said of the show is it’s excellent from a story perspective but is in desperate need of a makeover.

The Oath premieres Thursday, March 8th on Crackle
Title: Re: 'The Oath' Reviews
Post by: Clairette on March 02, 2018, 04:09:12 AM
quite so ( ( 
Title: Re: 'The Oath' Reviews
Post by: patch on March 08, 2018, 03:09:49 AM
Hot Cops Break Bad in Crackle's Entertainingly Silly The Oath
The crime genre has two main subcategories: clean and messy. Clean is the cut-and-dry procedural in which each episode introduces and solves a case. Messy is focused on what these crimes do to the people committing them and the people solving them. Messy is The Oath.

Crackle’s new drama, from ex-undercover cop Joe Halpin, focuses on the apparently rampant problem of police so corrupt that they’ve gone ahead and formed gangs of their own, and it’s as entertainingly silly as the one-two punch of me telling you that Sean Bean plays an incarcerated gang leader and the series is produced by 50 Cent. The FBI has one gang in particular’s number (the Ravens) and uses this as leverage to get a guy on the inside so they can build out a bigger RICO case against the other gangs (like the Vipers and the Silver Monkeys). OK, that last gang was a joke. There’s certainly fun to be poked at The Oath’s self-seriousness, which it seems to have learned from biker drama Sons of Anarchy, and it bleeds from its leathery aesthetic into its narrative.

The massive scope of the enterprise—well, the warring enterprises—is intimidating. It mercilessly tosses you into the deep end of the complex business and social relationships that come from running a police department and criminal organization. A lot of names get thrown around and things can move so fast you’re not sure if the camera or the plot is giving you more whiplash, but damn it, I respect The Oath’s moxie. There’s a ridiculous earnestness to the badassery that makes it all the more campy and enjoyable, like if someone decided to novelize a few hours of Grand Theft Auto gametime.

Whether we’re watching interim Ravens leader (and Bean’s character’s son) Steve Hammond (Ryan Kwanten) growl at everyone but his cancer-stricken mother, or undercover fed Damon Byrd (Arlen Escarpeta) bat a bargirl’s hand away from his law-upholding crotch, it’s a good time. That’s because, even when there’s a passionate (and forbidden) inter-gang romance, the acting is so straight-faced and hard that if it could post self-righteous content on Reddit, it would. Everyone is committed and the structural bones are there to support them.

No-nonsense plotting and intense, lean direction that’s helped by an edit bay prioritizing tension over all else makes the show feel breathless—in a good way. Every scene starts with balance and each subsequent shot disrupts that balance. That can mean a character reveals intentions or passions, or that a drug meet begins to go south as suspicions arise. Whether in service of story or personality, the technical aspects of the show are full of energetic practicality. A main transition—in fact, one of the only transitions—is a shot where a camera is attached below the driver-side door, shooting the side of the car from tire height. It’s cool, quick, and visually puts us out there on the asphalt.

One downside of this efficiency is that when a scene feels trite or overdone—like when Byrd’s boss at the FBI (Elisabeth Röhm) dresses him down for not being completely committed—it’s like getting a pure hit of the dross that the show’s been cutting its cocaine with. The air’s let out and we get too long to breathe, look around, and rethink what we’ve been watching. This often happens when a character, like Karen Beach (Katrina Law), has a one-on-one scene with a one-off guest, like a therapist. The supporting players don’t aid the gigantic main cast—which includes cops, feds, criminals, and all their associates and family members—more than by being a different face. There’s little nuance to bring out so early in the relationship-focused show’s lifespan, so they end up just being dull props. Directors Jeff T. Thomas and Luis Prieto already have so much on their plates that micromanagement at an actor level is likely just too much.

That messy plate, though, like a first helping at Golden Corral, is so tasty it’s easy to stop worrying about what’s in it. There are countless subplots and characters that I’d like to mention and Crackle’s only released a half-dozen episodes for review. It’s a garbled maze of crossed and spliced wires that makes you impressed that someone got the thing to turn on in the first place—and even then, you’re afraid to touch anything, lest you electrocute yourself and short out your enjoyment of it. The Oath has plenty of depth waiting to be explored in its layers of stacked schlock, and just because it doesn’t dig too deep now doesn’t mean it won’t later, given the chance. Its confidence—sometimes misguided, but always wearing sunglasses and ready to flash a badge—is its most convincing argument.

All 10 episodes of The Oath premiere Thursday, March 8 on Crackle.

Review: Crackle's 'The Oath' shows little promise

There's a moment in the early stages of "The Oath" — a frenetic but dim crime series debuting Thursday on Sony's streaming service Crackle — that makes the unfortunate choice of inviting comparison to "The Wire."

"The Oath," which was created by former L.A. County Sheriff's Department deputy Joe Halpin ("Hawaii Five-O"), will not be as well remembered as the revered HBO series, which just received the oral history treatment in a book by Jonathan Abrams. In an early episode, "The Oath" finds a crime boss (Kwame Patterson, who also appeared in "The Wire") asking a corrupt cop about a street drug called WMD, which he describes as "Oxycontin on steroids."

"The Wire" also drew from the headlines to name its corner products, and by tribute or coincidence, that line is the first and last time "The Oath" approaches the same airspace as the many far better programs about police, corruption, crime and drugs.

To be fair, the series isn't aiming nearly that high. Executive produced by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, whose contributions to Starz's "Power" left a greater impression than his recent hip-hop output, "The Oath" builds on a title card that opens each episode to explain the existence of criminal organizations within police departments. The colorful gang names (Berserkers, Vipers and the like) are so common that there seems no decent cop in the whole city, which seems L.A.-adjacent in spirit but was primarily shot in Puerto Rico.

Our "hero" is officer Steve Hammond (Ryan Kwanten, known in happier times as the goofily dumb Jason Stackhouse from "True Blood"), who leads the Ravens. We meet the masked Steve and his crew in scenes blatantly ripping off the Al Pacino-Robert De Niro thriller "Heat," pulling off bank heists armed with automatic rifles. One of the Ravens, Steve's brother Cole (Cory Hardrict, "American Sniper"), angers the rest by roughing up a guard during the robbery, which is a rare instance of any of the show's characters exhibiting a flicker of morality.

In the early going, "The Oath" is most interested in establishing that everyone is very bad, especially given how seldom they're distracted by any actual police work. The cartoonishly harsh Beach (Katrina Law) has a mostly insult-driven relationship with a cop from a rival gang, and Ramos (Joseph Julian Soria) has shady in-laws and an extraordinarily careless way of covering his tracks.

Then there are Steve and Cole, who don't like one another much but are theoretically united by an incarcerated patriarch (Sean Bean of "Game of Thrones," who mostly stays out of sight) and a cancer-striken mother (Linda Purl). Both could serve as some kind of justification for the brothers to have turned to crime and maybe inspire some sympathy, but "The Oath" isn't that kind of show. Everyone is corrupt because they are.

Even with its stiff storyline and performances, the series shows a flash of potential with the quick arrival of the FBI, which has been investigating the Ravens. But agent Damon Byrd (Arlen Escarpeta) is the least capable undercover cop on TV and quickly gets mixed up in their dirty business too. Without someone to actually root for, "The Oath" functions on the hope that viewers have the time or patience to watch dirty cops evade justice if the twists come fast enough.

The show delivers decent enough action-movie pacing in a gruff, amoral universe that really wants to be reminiscent of "Training Day" or "The Shield," but with so many one-dimensional characters saddled with leaden dialogue, it falls well short. Some half-hearted groundwork is laid for the possibility of redemption in a few Ravens, but there's so little evidence of something deeper or surprising anywhere on-screen that it's difficult to care. "The Oath" just shows too little promise.

Title: Re: 'The Oath' Reviews
Post by: patch on March 09, 2018, 05:18:26 AM
The Oath: Review of the pilot episode 
real head (and in the case of Steve and Cole: Father) of the group, Tom Hammond ( Sean Bean ), is currently behind bars, hoping someone will handle the matter for him from outside. But he sticks to certain information that could get others into trouble. Unfortunately, a few short jabbering scenes are all that we get to see from Mr. Bean. Quite meager for the main attraction of the series, especially since the rest of the casts munching in the same, aggressive gangster intimidation tone. Even Agent Price ( Elisabeth Röhm ), who gets rid of the corrupt cops, sounds no different.

" The Oath " is a slightly original gangster drama, exclusively populated by assholes, who overreacts too sparingly with his Sean Bean during the first episode, who can now sleepwalk through hard-boiled roles like these.
Title: Re: 'The Oath' Reviews
Post by: patch on March 20, 2018, 01:20:23 AM
The Oath - Series Review - "A Pretty Good Group of Bad Guys"
There was a time when television drama was simple, the lines between the good guys and the bad guys were clearly drawn. The good guys were the cops, the lawyers, the doctors all standing on the right side of whatever issue was being discussed per episode. Then the lines began to blur. With the advent of such shows as Breaking Bad, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos, and House of Cards, viewers were drawn to a new type of lead character, the anti-hero – characters of less than stellar moral character, but who were compelling enough to keep viewers tuning in each week. Such is the case of the cops you meet in The Oath, a ten-episode series, executive produced by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and G-Unit Film and Television now available for streaming on Crackle. The series explores, in gritty detail, the dark sub-culture of gangs, made up entirely of cops in a large metropolitan setting. They protect and serve but aren't opposed to lining their own pockets when the opportunity presents itself. It's what happens to each of the officers who make up the gang called the Ravens, and what lengths they'll go to in order to survive that makes The Oath a series worth watching.

The Oath is a hard-hitting, pull-no-punches series with characters you want to see more of in a second season
 Some of the production limitations result in some poor sound quality and shaky camera work in several episodes and unfortunately, the weak link in the cast, to this reviewer, is oddly Bean, who at times overacts in his role as the newly released Hammond patriarch and original leader of the Ravens 

The Oath is now available for streaming on Crackle. What did you think of the series? Who is your favorite character? Do you think the show deserves a second season? Share your thoughts in the comments below
Title: Re: 'The Oath' Reviews
Post by: Janice1066 on March 20, 2018, 03:04:54 PM
Perhaps he "overacts" here insofar as he actually acts, which is more than the role really requires.