Luke Cage: Moment of Truth – Dark Marvel Magic (Review)

Mike Colter as Luke Cage

Luke Cage, the latest hero from the Marvel-verse to appear on Netflix, hit the stream on 30 September.  Like the rest of these Netflix offerings, the entire first season is on offer. However, it seems criminal to  binge though the whole show in one or two sittings.  This dark and moody Marvel magical offering is like a good port. It should be sipped and not gulped.

The series looks like a direct homage to the original comic set against the ’70s atmosphere of blaxploitation films like Shaft, Super Fly and Foxy Brown; to name but a few.  It may have that texture but the framing of each scene is pure Marvel.  The final shot of the first episode, for instance, transforms the viewer right back to childhood.

Drinking in the dark colors and the hues of orange in that last shot is pure comic book storyboard art at its finest.  (And yes comic books are art, thank you very much.)

The first episode of Luke Cage offered a bit of backstory (very little actually) and offers the audience its first personal view of the hero. Sure Luke was in Jessica Jones but his character was peripheral at best.  The bulletproof strongman was there for support and little else. (Apart from that sex scene.)

“Moment of Truth” is slow, almost plodding in its pace, as it sets up Cage and his world.  All the events are presented in an almost lackadaisical style. Nothing is hurried, not even the million dollar robbery later on.

While this is a tad frustrating, it matches the environment. No one in this verse does anything without reason. The villains are steady and, despite being bloodily violent, maintain a pedestrian pace.

Cage is pressed into the role of good guy. His prison background has made him cautious and slow to commit. It is a combination of factors that forces Luke to stand against what he clearly knows is wrong.

Despite the slow crawl of the pilot there is a lot going on in the streets of Harlem. Luke Cage may be keeping a low profile, sticking to his personal code of ethics, but no one else is.

A club owner and gangster colludes with a corrupt councilwoman and a mobster from another “gang.” Illegal gun sales and a robbery that turns deadly is also just another event in the neighborhood.

Cottonmouth looks to be the big bad of this series.  (How apt that he has a huge portrait of a crowned Biggie Smalls behind his desk.) It is fitting that Ali has been cast as Stokes. The actor exudes restrained power from every pore. No one else would have been a good match for Colter’s Cage.

The cast all bring much to the table and each one has an impressive pedigree on offer. Ron Cephas Jones, for example, has been one busy performer in the last two years with roles in Mr. Robot, This is Us and now Luke Cage and he has a relatively small role. 

Watching the season’s first episode was a little frustrating at first as it took its sweet time getting to the point.  It was, however, worth the wait. Luke Cage is a brilliant addition to the Marvel television stable of shows.

Head on over to Netflix now and watch this hero work against the  backdrop of a faint R&B soundtrack. Luke Cage, aka Power Man looks to be another winner.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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