Telling a good police story is an art: The job and nature of the characters allow you to put them almost anywhere, but like a rat in a cage, once you’ve got ’em you’ve got to figure out what to do with them. As my video review above says, the very hardboiled and very good Season 2 debut of True Detective on HBO on June 21 very deftly takes us to some very familiar and very different places.
Of course, the temptation is to compare the second installment of the anthology series created and written by Nic Pizzolatto to compete with the force of nature that was the Cary Fukunaga-directed first season with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. You have to let that go and let this series stand on its own. And this multi-director tale of corruption, murder, broken institutions and broken people in the City of Angels has strong legs. True Detective 2 stars Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams as three damaged cops forced together on the case of a dead corrupt bureaucrat. Just on the other side of the law, Vince Vaughn portrays a career crook looking to cash in big on a multibillion-dollar public transit project. In distinct contrast to the testosterone-fueled Season 1 of True Detective, McAdams is the real powerhouse here in a startling performance of sheer steel and raw wounds.
As the Louisiana bayou was in the first True Detective, L.A. itself is a character in this dark drama — though more in its faceless sprawl than its shadows. All of which deserves a nod to Justin Lin, by the way, who sets up the tone and look of TD 2. In the two episodes he helms, Lin handles the scale of the city and the county with skills well honed from blockbusters like the Fast & Furious flicks. The director also reminds you of his indie roots as he captures the profiles and slithering plotlines that weave over each other in the California sun like the freeways that link LA together.
Check out my review and tell us what you think of True Detective Season 2. Will you be watching on Sunday?
This video originally posted on June 17.