If I Stay Written for the screen by Shauna Cross …
A fourth season of The Killing seemed unlikely, to say the least, after the show was canceled. Fortunately for fans, Netflix stepped in and the series’ change in venue will likely shape the final season (it should, for example, allow Joel Kinnaman to drop an f-bomb, which I’ve been waiting for Holder to do since he was introduced back in the first season). What hasn’t changed is the series’ murder-mystery core. The premiere introduces two intertwining plots: the massacre of the Stansbury family (save for one survivor, son Kyle Stansbury, who does not remember the night of the murder), and whether Linden and Holder will be able to successfully cover up Linden’s shooting of Lt. Skinner from last season’s finale. The whodunit of who killed the family looks like the most interesting central mystery in the show’s history, or at least one of the better plotted. It takes less time to find a plausible prime suspect for the murder than it has in past seasons, so maybe Sud has taken to heart some of the harsh reviews of the show’s meandering pace, or maybe that’s just the reality of having a shortened season. Plus, most cop shows would be unconcerned with continuity and the series deserves plaudits for continuing the cover up plot, which is one of The Killing’s best arguments for existing; the other, of course, is the partnership of Linden and Holder.
Atom Egoyan’s The Captive pits Ryan Reynolds as a blue collar vigilante in an investigatory drama of pedophiles and police-work. However, while its central themes seem reminiscent of the recent Prisoners, its execution is regrettably drawn from cartoons, Lifetime schlock, and the worst traits of primetime detective shows. Following an increasing number of recent failings for the Canadian director, The Captive sets itself up for a return to the form of his heartfelt mid-90s melodrama The Sweet Hereafter, but thanks to the exacerbated direction and faux-camp spirit, it evokes hardly any reaction other than groans and pity-guffaws.
It seems anathema for any zombie movie worth its salt to not be rated R for an excess of gore, and yet, here we are with the long-awaited World War Z, a PG-13 film chock full of the undead, but not much blood in any way. Deafening rumors of script problems aside, the real issue with World War Z lies not specifically with the writing, but with the overly jittery, often obscuring direction from Marc Forster. Even with Brad Pitt as the ostensibly heroic leading man, this movie doesn’t leave much of a memorable mark on the audience, just a mild headache.
AMC’s current original lineup is incredibly diverse in tone. There’s the action-first approach of The Walking Dead and the slow, methodical movement of shows like Mad Men and The Killing (Hell on Wheels and Breaking Bad are somewhere between those two extremes, a little closer to The Walking Dead’s pace). When pace is purposeful and established, it’s hard to criticize it on any grounds other than personal taste. So, when people talk about The Killing being boring, I’m inclined to say they’re reacting based off their personal expectations as TV viewers and are not basing that criticism on anything substantial that has to do with the quality of the show itself. And to reiterate: The Killing is a quality show – one that doesn’t have aspirations higher than what it achieves.