Netflix “Messiah” review: Leak didn’t spoil the first season
The streaming giant has come out swinging in 2020. There really is too much, so we’ve cherry-picked the shows that interest us most. First up, is a review of Netflix’s Messiah.
Two things to know about this review:
- We aim to be 100% spoiler-free.
- We watched the whole series, not just an episode like other websites.
On to the review.
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When the show was announced in late 2019, some eagle-eyed streaming fans spotted hidden meanings in the marketing. Their tweets were pulled, and it looked like Netflix fumbled big on this series. So, the big question heading into this Messiah Netflix review was: “How does the leak impact the show?”
Honesty, it doesn’t. Throughout the series, I was waiting for the “I knew it!” moment. It never came. What’s fascinating is that the leak actually made me question events more.
Thinking about it, knowing the leak could have inadvertently improved my experience of the show, because I was so sure of what was going to happen. Could this have been a misdirection by Netflix in their marketing? It would make sense considering the mystery surrounding the lead character in the show itself.
CHECK OUT: Netflix’s Messiah springs a leak
To ensure we don’t spoil the show, this is what Netflix put out to promote Messiah.
A wary CIA officer investigates a charismatic man who sparks a spiritual movement and stirs political unrest.Netflix
The bad bits
There are a few bad aspects to consider. In terms of production, most of the show looks great, even amazing at times. However, some of the show is also clearly made while cutting corners (and costs). If I was a mathematician, I’d say the split is 85/15 in favor of being great. This is a positive split, but the lesser quality production elements stick out even more when they pop up as a result. Hopefully, if Netflix renews. A second season could rectify the corner-cutting.
The bigger issue is in the cast. Some actors are great; others are not. When a bad actor is in a scene cutting corners, it pulls you straight out of the show and distracts from the scene. In comparison, something like V Wars, which is trashy throughout, may have a bad scene, yet it doesn’t break immersion. With Messiah, one moment can wreck a scene that’s meant to have weight and impact. In a story like this, that is a real big negative.
CHECK OUT: Netflix V Wars review
The good bits
Fortunately, the imperfect storm of bad acting and corner-cutting happens mostly with secondary storylines. This means Messiah, for the majority, is very entertaining.
What you need to know is that the lead Mehdi Dehbi is cast perfectly, and Michelle Monaghan, for the most part, is great. However, the standout is Tomer Sisley. His performance has depth and shows the most character growth from beginning to end.
Normally, when a show has production issues, the visual effects take a hit. That is not the case in Messiah. The visual effects are amazing. The issues are surprisingly around the US portion of the show, rather than the Middle Eastern elements, which are mostly brilliant (except for one actor).
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The great bits
The big problem for Messiah should have been how it delivered the religious elements, but it does so intelligently.
It doesn’t bash any religion, nor does it put any religion on a pedestal. Instead, we see a slice of Middle Eastern fragmentation, nuanced in how it presents terrorism. The same is true for Christianity: we see the devoted and those seeking celebrity, along with those desperately stuck between the two sufferings.
Building on the intelligent religious storylines is the prophecy aspect. The show is careful to avoid saying certain things, while constantly implying who the mysterious character is. It builds on the original leak, as if planned.
Simply put, the main story is smart and engrossing. If the second season can focus on the positives, then it will become a binge-worthy series.
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Messiah verdict: Chill
- Streaming on Netflix
- Created by Michael Petroni
- Starring Michelle Monaghan, Mehdi Dehbi, and Tomer Sisley
Having watched Netflix’s Messiah, this reviewer is torn. The show could easily be binge-worthy, but Messiah needs viewer discretion based on the following.
If you’re seeking a great story and can look past a show’s shortcomings, Messiah deserves to be binged on. I watched all 10 episodes in two days, and don’t regret a minute of it.
However, if bad acting and moments of poorly-made filler are enough to turn you off, take Messiah off your watch list. This isn’t trashy TV fan-fiction like V Wars. It’s trying to be serious, and for that, it needed a polished production.
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