'Revolution' Packs In The Action
The premise is unusually provocative: what would people do if, out of the blue, electricity were eradicated? How would we adapt and survive when left in the dark?
Reminiscent of Flashforward (prematurely terminated after one thrilling season), Falling Skies and The Walking Dead, Revolution held the promise of a post-apocalyptic tale that posed a relatively realistic scenario, in contrast to the alien invasion and zombie takeover variety that have populated our screens of late. But as the pilot ploughed through — and plough it did, diving quickly into present day, set 15 years from now, and speeding along impatiently — originality did not figure as top priority. The dystopian future of Revolution sees humanity revert back to pre-electric bucolic life and sport Hunger Games-esque fashion replete with crossbows and medieval accessories. It is hard not to scoff when we are shown a rusted, dismantled Prius carcass being used as a gardening structure. Drawing heavily on cliche, Revolution seems to favor plot advancement over creativity and attention to detail.
But even this has its perks, primarily that the pilot covers quite a bit of ground: following a global blackout, we follow the lives of the Matheson family, whose widowed genius father may be one of the few — if not the single person — aware of the cause, and tentatively the solution, to the mysterious phenomenon. It does not take long for the Militia, operating in the name of unseen tyrant Monroe, to get wind of his secret. As a result, TV fixture Tim Guinee as Ben Matheson unfortunately does not last long. He is killed during a raid and his son, Danny (Graham Rogers), is kidnapped, which marks the beginning of what will no doubt be a tortuous quest by our central heroine, fiery sister Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), to save her brother and uncover the truth. There to aid her naive self are former doctor Maggie, Ben's squeeze after the death of his wife; long lost uncle Miles, played by the hunky Billy Burke; and Samwise Gamgee-like Aaron (Zak Orth), a former Google employee and close friend of Ben who is evidently inserted for comic relief — although he also carries a big secret and responsibility in the form of a flash drive handed to him by Matheson prior to his death, which might just hold the answer to everyone's problem.
Whenever the acting doesn't cut it, which is more often than desired with Guinee gone, the actors' good looks are supposed to make do. But who's complaining? It doesn't hurt the action that everybody is handsome: did I mention Charlie's potential love interest, Nate, a Militia member with a soft spot played by a sculpted JD Pardo? Other welcome distractions include epic fight scenes (Burke takes out an entire squad almost single-handedly in bonafide Indiana Jones fashion) and intriguing twists (Miles and Monroe used to be BFF's!). Giancarlo Esposito, meanwhile, is a redeeming force in a sea of acting mediocrity. His villainous Captain Tom Neville, a former insurance adjuster with a knack for spotting lies (it comes with the job!), reminds us of what we're missing in everybody else.
Despite its cliches and shortcomings, Revolution has the potential to entertain — and the pilot manages to plant a substantial amount of seeds for future tensions and enigmas, even if they are a tad formulaic. After all, producer J.J. Abrams (of Lost, Fringe and Alcatraz), creator Eric Kripke (of Supernatural) and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens) are no amateurs. Surely something juicy is brewing ahead.