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Liaison Review 2023 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Vincent Cassel and Eva Green are two performers who can make nearly anything watchable through their sheer undeniable screen presence. Apple TV+’s country-hopping “Liaison” tests this theory with a convoluted plot about former allies turned enemies forced to work together again. It opens with a sultry theme song by Plumm over sexy footage but never finds that heat in any of its episodes, creating a bizarre disconnect right from the beginning of each episode, despite the undeniable chemistry between Cassel and Green. It’s too busy jumping from plot point to plot point in a way that never hooks, like recent British spy shows like “Slow Horses” or “Bodyguard.” It also has surprisingly little to say about international intrigue or politics despite unfolding across several of the most complex nations in the world. Everyone is working in their own best interest instead of their country or the world. Got it. What else is new?
“Liaison” opens with two hackers from Damascus, Walid (Marco Horanieh) and Samir (Aziz Dyab), who stumble onto something no one was supposed to see when they find electronic evidence of a terrorist attack that’s meant for London while trying to destroy some of Assad’s digital library. The French secret service offers to get the guys out of Syria and to safety, hiring the talents of a badass-for-hire named Gabriel Delage (Vincent Cassel) to get the job done. As one of them tries to get his wife and child to safety somewhere else, the whole smuggling operation gets upended, and the hackers think the French government and Delage may have burned them. Walid and Samir end up getting to London, where they try to find their uncle, and that’s where Delage hunts them down, and things really go wrong.
Meanwhile, National Cyber Security Centre head Richard Banks (Peter Mullan) barks orders at his expert Alison Rowdy (Eva Green) about the safety of his beloved country. In the premiere, they’ve spotted what seemed like a harmless hack, but Banks is convinced it was a test balloon, the “starter” before the main meal of real cyber-terrorism to come. Of course, he’s right, and pretty soon, London is being attacked from all sides, including a malfunctioning dam on the Thames, a train crash that injures the child of Alison’s boyfriend, and a mass power outage. Things are so bad in England that Banks and company are persuaded to enter into a cyber agreement with the rest of Europe, which isn’t as easy to do post-Brexit.
As Rowdy and Banks investigate the hacking, they find their way to Walid, Samir, and Delage, and a connection is revealed between our two genetically blessed stars. They have a shared past that could put the entire operation in jeopardy and challenge their allegiances. Before you know it, Rowdy is protecting Delage, and the two are working under the radar of the French and British governments that need this whole thing to go away right now, even if it costs lives.
It sounds fun, right? Sadly, the writing here by Virginie Brac feels routine and uninspired, going through the espionage motions that push the characters down tracks that give them nothing interesting to do while they’re traveling to their destinations. It’s one of those shows where almost every conversation centers on what a character needs and what they’re going to do to get it. There are so few breaks for humor or backstory that when Alison, Gabriel, and Alison’s father actually get into a deep conversation about their past in episode four, it almost feels like another, much better show.
Cassel and Green have proven they can elevate mediocre material, and their chemistry does that here occasionally, even as they struggle against mediocre, surface-level writing. Cassel makes out the better of the two, finding notes of melancholy over what he lost with Alison while also being determined to complete his current assignment. Green is tragically let down, failing to find the spark in this character that usually defines her best performances. For maybe the first time, she seems miscast and uncomfortable in this character’s skin. As for supporters, Mullan can do this kind of “barking orders” thing in his sleep, but he gives the show some thrust, even though he disappears for long stretches of time. Everyone else feels like a cliché, especially the Syrian characters who are given minor consideration as real people.
It doesn’t help that the plotting of “Liaison” doesn’t feel nearly as smart as it should be to be effective. A surprising number of turns in this plot seem to rely on chance encounters, overheard conversations, or nearly impossible twists. It’s one of those stories that lurches from episode to episode, never finding the right rhythm because it’s too concerned with how it’s getting from point A to point B, no matter how unbelievable the journey may be.
It’s depressingly easy to imagine the better version of “Liaison,” a thriller that matches Green’s sultry intellectualism with Cassel’s more primal spy game quickly and throws them into a Bond-esque story of international intrigue. (On that note, this show is stunningly light on actual action.) By the time they really team up in this version, it’s difficult to care about the endless conversations about how to manage the political fallout of international hacking that one government may want to keep secret from another. It all makes for an encounter that’s easy to skip.