• Review- Strike Back: Origins (Season 1)

    Single Issue VI

    Strike Back: Origins (2010)

    Strike Back Season 1 On the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a British Special Forces unit takes part in an operation to release a hostage. Led by John Porter, the mission is a technical success but leads to the death of two of Porterís men, with a third severely wounded.Even with the success of the mission, Porter is disgraced by the event, and is ultimately discharged from his duties and then resigns completely. His life falls apart due to these events, but after a period of seven years, an old enemy resurfaces, connected to the raid in 2003. With the knowledge of this enemy being alive, a secret division within the Ministry of Defence known as Section 20 reactivates John Porter to confront the threat. But that is not the only enemy that Porter will have to face on his journey to redeem himself.
    Based on the novel of the same name written by former SAS operative turned writer Chris Ryan, Strike Back is the story of the people within the fictional British agency known as Section 20, which handles threats around the world with deadly force. The first season of Strike Back (titled Origins) consists of six episodes, though with each country receiving two episodes each it is more of a miniseries consisting of three separate but related TV movies. The three nations consist of Iraq, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan, and each have their own stories, their own villains, and overall their own tones. Featuring high production values and plenty of action, Strike Back is an enjoyable show that is comparable to a show version of Die Hard, or a shorter version of 24. Though there are multiple characters each characterized by their own motives within each episode, the series is ultimately about John Porter.
    There are many positives about Strike Back. For one, the series is exceptionally well made considering that they are essentially TV movies. Filmed in South Africa, each of the three countries are well depicted, and the cinematography is very good. There is no CGI or anything to stand in for environments; it is clear that everything you see on the show is completely real, with the geographically diverse South Africa standing in for each of the three countries. Whereas this can lead to cases where people who understand the geography of each nation may see errors, the series ultimately does come across as convincingly authentic looking to the average viewer. Strike Back also has the benefit of having an exceptionally great cast of characters played by a wonderful array of actors and actresses. The one that stands out of course is Richard Armitage as John Porter. Armitageís performance really lends credibility to the character of Porter, who is scarred both mentally and physically from his past experiences in the SAS. Andrew Lincoln also gives a great performance as Hugh Collinson, an agent of Section 20. The guest actors, such as Alexander Siddig, were also quite wonderful, from the villains to the heroes, all giving great performances in their respective roles. Another strong aspect that Strike Back has is the action of the series. Though it is not a show where there is a firefight every few minutes, the battle scenes are excellently made, and contain plenty of strong action and lots of blood for those that enjoy that sort of thing. There is no shortage of well made action scenes in this series, and the viewer looking for it should not be disappointed.
    There is not really anything that could be considered bad about this series. Certainly it will not appeal to everyone, and some may find it a bit over the top and more of a male fantasy show rather than a serious effort to show conflict in the three nations, especially in the very recent and very real conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq than many of the viewers would be well acquainted with. For others it may be a bit too political, and perhaps a bit confusing concerning the methods and motivations of the villains. It also ends in a somewhat satisfying way, though some may be disappointed by it, especially since it is kind of a cliffhanger. Hopefully the continuation of the series will resolve the cliffhanger, as it must certainly have a large impact on the future of John Porter.
    Having never read the book, I cannot compare Strike Back to its novel counterpart, leading me to only be able to judge this season on its own merits, which it certainly has. Overall, I find the first season of Strike Back to be highly enjoyable, and quite thrilling. It has excellent pacing and an entertaining story. Itís a lot of fun to watch, and has very few moments that one would ever consider wasteful or uninteresting, at least from my perspective. The story of John Porter and his path to redemption is very gripping, and one that I believe is worthy of watching to even those who do not like shows with a lot of action and blood. The characters, whether hero or villain, also make this miniseries incredibly watchable. It may not be everyoneís cup of tea, however Strike Back season 1 is a solid piece of action and a well-crafted story from start to finish. I look forward to watching Season 2.


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    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Alwyn's Avatar
      Alwyn -
      A strong cast of characters and well-made action - this sounds like a series which fans of Total War games would enjoy. I wonder what you mean by the series being too political. This might mean that there are political elements which don't fit well with the rest of the story, or that the political views of the writers are coming across in a way which might annoy people who have different political views, for example. Good review!
    1. TheDarkKnight's Avatar
      TheDarkKnight -
      I would argue that anyone that likes action/adventure will like this series in general.

      After this season the show continues but is retooled with different characters. Each season continues in the same vein as this one...a series of two part, self-contained arcs that eventually all tie together in the finale. In the end, each season feels like a 10 hour long movie, which is pretty cool.

      The best part is that the series ends well, though it looks like they are bringing it back. Either way, it's one of my favorite shows.

      Not sure if I will ever review the others but I will leave the option open.