‘The Night Agent’ (Season 1) Review: A Twisty Political Thriller
Last year, a spy thriller called The Recruit, starring Noah Centineo, was released on Netflix. It follows a young lawyer involuntarily thrust into a mission that changes his life. The new series on the streaming platform, adapted from Matthew Quirk’s novel, The Night Agent, of the same name, follows an agent working at the FBI who stops an international attack on the White House. The story and the characters are somewhat similar. Still, the only difference is that the latter isn’t an underwhelming spy thriller that results in an incohesive narrative structure and an unlikable protagonist.
After Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso) stops a bombing at the Metro, he works secretly at the White House. It’s not a significant promotion considering that he saved a lot of people, but the country doesn’t see him as a hero due to his family’s past. He’s stuck in the basement guarding a phone — a landline where night agents can call in emergencies. One night, an unexpected call from Rose Larkin (Luciane Buchanan), a former tech CEO, calls the landline after her aunt and uncle were murdered protecting her. Peter and Rose discover that they uncovered secret ties to the Metro bombing and that there is a mole inside the White House. The President’s Chief of Staff, Diane Farr (Hong Chau), believes in Peter. They work together to prevent another national crisis.
The Night Agent starts confidently. The series wastes no time establishing Peter’s dead-end job and the circumstances in which he ended up in that position. After working with Diane for over a year, she is the only person he trusts in the building. The possibility of a mole inside the White House tampering with Peter and Diane’s phone conversations and trying to put Rose and Peter in danger is suggested early on. But as the story progresses, it’s pretty clear that the culprit’s identity is in front of them. The plot, at times, is predictable. But the thrilling chase and the mystery surrounding the Metro bombing, also an additional subplot that ties with Peter’s case make the series compelling.
The series introduces other characters and subplots, such as two assassins, (Phoenix Raei and Eve Harlow), who are sent to kill Rose’s family. These assassins’ names are never revealed. They have their own issues. It isn’t that significant to the overall plot. Their only purpose in the series is to wreak havoc wherever they go, like villains popping out in the most unsurprising moments.
However, the most significant subplot, which ties to Peter’s case, is Maddie’s (Sarah Desjardins) kidnapping. While Secret Service agent, Chelsea Arrington (Fola Evans-Akingbola), is assigned to protect the Vice President’s daughter, who might appear to be a normal teenager in college with problems of her own. She gets kidnapped by her lecturer’s boyfriend, who tricks her and invites her to his apartment (this entire subplot made my head scratch). Peter and Rose meet Chelsea and her partner, Erik Monks (D.B. Woodside), and the story has some real tension. The stakes are higher. Peter and Rose are closer to discovering the truth about the Metro bombing and the people behind it.
The Night Agent might be another conspiracy spy thriller series, but it successfully shows that it is different. It’s exciting and includes compelling stories, regardless of whether or not it might be predictable. Basso gives an incredible, strong performance from start to end. He is meant to be an action star. His chemistry with Buchanan isn’t convincing enough. It takes the route of a romantic storyline which wasn’t necessary.
There’s no denying that The Night Agent, while with its many flaws, is a lot more enjoyable and balances the many subplots without making them too complicated. It might not have a memorable cliffhanger ending, but it does bring back satisfying action sequences. It doesn’t bring anything new to the genre or try to reinvent it in any way, shape or form, but it certainly takes inspiration from other movies to execute a compelling spy thriller series.