Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Now on Netflix: Hap and Leonard (2016)

Hap and Leonard (2016) - Created by Nick Damici, Jim Mickle; Starring James Purefoy, Michael K. Williams, Christina Hendricks, Jimmi Simpson, Bill Sage, Pollyanne McIntosh.

By Kenny Howell

In just six episodes, Hap and Leonard manages to be two completely different shows. Unfortunately, the one that focuses more on the titular characters is the weaker part.

The first half is a jokey buddy comedy/adventure about James Purefoy's Hap and Michael K. Williams' Leonard as they try to find some missing money. Hap's old flame Trudy, played by Christina Hendricks (The Neon Demon), has convinced them to help her friends, former hippies that have Robin Hood type ambitions of getting financial equality back in the world.

It's what happens after they find the money that makes Hap and Leonard a different show and a much better one. There are other people looking for that money, a psychopathic man played by Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) and his giant, ass-kicking girlfriend that is straight out of a late 1980s action film (which is also the era that this show takes place). The Sundance series then becomes extremely violent, and almost has a nightmarish vibe to it, which is drastically different from the first part.

It's not a good sign that this show is called Hap and Leonard and the weakest part of the show is Hap and Leonard. There is a forced camaraderie here that creators Nick Damici and Jim Mickle (Cold in July) are pushing, but it never gels. There are tons of sarcastic jokes, almost none of which are funny that are supposed to make you love the shows' heroes, but it never comes together. That's even with Williams (The Night Of) as Leonard, which it is hard to not want to watch that guy. He is quite good, but there is no chemistry there between him and Purefoy.

However, when Simpson's Soldier shows up, the show does get quite a bit of energy. It gains a focus because it has a bad guy you can point to, which also clears up Hap and Leonard a bit, giving you a reason to get behind them. Unfortunately, you have to go through half of the season to get there.

The first season of Hap and Leonard is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **1/2

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