Guns, girls, and palm trees: what could go wrong?
Hawaii Five-0 is the kind of effortlessly entertaining, quickly paced action candy we’ve come to expect from the power team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, though this is no Lost. Five-0 won’t deliver an intellectual punch and it is not interested in building an alternate reality meant to disturb or confuse. Rather, the Honolulu of the show is composed of a series of familiar vistas amped up by bright cinematography and Hollywood glamour.
I should say I’ve never seen the original 1970s version of the show. The 2010 rendition stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan as Steve McGarrett and Danno Williams, respectively. The major carryover seems to be in the iconic theme song, and the phrase, “Book him, Danno!” O’Loughlin excels in scrunching up his extremely handsome face in a a performance that’s equal parts hard-boiled bad-cop swagger and sly, underhanded humor. Caan is the perfect foil to action hero O’Loughlin, his confused and irritated mugging punctuated by his aptitude for rambling on in a New Jersey inflected litany of complaints.
The show operates more episodically than serially, with each new installment featuring some new snafu. McGarrett is the ex-NAVY punk to Williams’ coffee-spilling, donut hungry Jersey transfer; together they track down drug dealers, sex traffickers and mob bosses. Hawaii Five-0 is not The Wire, or The Shield. Everything is carried off with a light hand, the bad guys are really just bad, and the good guys really just good. Aside from the tropical setting, Five-0 has little to distinguish it from any other cop dramedy, though there something mysteriously appealing about this particular combination of exotic location and standard excitement.
Alongside this duo stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park as Chin Ho Kelly and his cousin, Kono Kalakua. Kelly is a disgraced ex-cop who once served under McGarrett’s father, Kalakua his eager rookie cop cousin. Park is straight out of the science fiction drama Battlestar Galactica, and her role as Kono lets her show off her action chops. Together, these four misfits comprise the Five-0 team. Without resorting utterly to cliche, the show plays off the usual tropes of buddy cop comedy and police procedural structure.
Each episode moves with the assured timing of experienced action direction and the show is never less than entertaining. The chemistry is good, and the pleasures simple, but it remains to be seen whether Hawaii Five-0 will attempt to rise above its solid formula to provide new insight into the genre.
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