Outer Range review: Josh Brolin-starrer is a well-crafted mesmerizing show | Web series

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It’s Drishyam with cowboys and a sci-fi twist in Amazon Prime Video’s latest Outer Range original series. The genre show from creator Brian Watkins is part crime thriller, part emotionally charged family drama, and part Lost-esque sci-fi mystery. Read also : Halo review: This video game adaptation is off to a good start, Shabana makes you proud

Outer Range seems to be Amazon’s answer to the Yellowstone hype. Created by Taylor Sheridan, the smash hit Yellowstone stars Kevin Costner as a rancher who, over the course of four hugely successful seasons, has had to deal with corruption, politicians, oil companies and beyond. , as everyone tries to grab a slice of their lucrative land. .

But the influence of Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Wind River, Hell Or High Water) on Outer Range does not stop there. The distant setting, the searing drama, the layered writing that neatly weaves together crime, loss, and family, it all feels like something straight out of Sheridan’s playbook. Outer Range takes those familiar elements and dives them into the paranormal, creating something completely different, concocting an ambitious, spellbinding, and perfectly crafted cocktail of pain, family, and fantasy.

Set in the remote wilderness landscapes of Wyoming, Outer Range follows the Abbott family, made up of patriarch Royal (a fantastical Josh Brolin), his wife Cecelia (Lili Taylor), and sons Perry (Tom Pelphrey) and Rhett ( Lewis Pullman). As all who come into contact with them are reminded time and time again, the Abbots have been through a lot. Perry’s wife, Rebecca, recently disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving her husband and young daughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie). Was she taken? Did she abandon them? An exhaustive investigation yielded no answers, leaving Perry and the Abbotts fractured and injured. Adding to the family’s misfortunes, the neighborly and greedy Tillerson family decided to make a play for the vast territory of the Abbotts. Not to mention the mysterious Autumn, a wandering young hippie woman (their words, not mine) who camps on Abbott land with an unknown agenda who claims to have a spiritual connection to the ranch.

Then, of course, there is the question of the hole. Strange things keep happening at the Abbott Ranch until Royal finally stumbles upon them. A hole. Bang in the middle of his land is a gaping black hole in the ground with mysterious floating elements. Royal is initially amazed, but gradually drawn and increasingly possessive of the void, which has a funny effect on anyone who comes in contact with him, giving them strange visions.

Josh Brolin delivers a fantastic performance as a cowboy in Outer Range.

If that wasn’t enough to suck you in, there’s also the matter of murder. After a drunken brawl too far with the Tillersons, the Abbott brothers become entangled in a murder, which the family desperately tries to cover up in a Drishyam-esque how far-would-you-for-your-family story. Naturally, the walls begin to close in on the Abbotts as they try to protect their people from the cops, their enemies, and those drawn to the unknown mysteries of the void.

Creator and co-writer Brian Watkins, along with directors Jennifer Getzinger, Alonso Ruizpalacios, Amy Seimetz and Lawrence Trilling, deftly navigate the series’ oddly confusing mix of genre elements with startling sensitivity. So much so that sometimes you’re so drawn to one facet of the show that you completely forget about the others. At first, there were times when I got so caught up in the growing tension of Royal jostling to cover up his sons’ crimes, that I completely forgot about the black hole issue (pun intended).

At its best, Outer Range’s sci-fi edge becomes almost incidental. As intriguing as it is, the paranormal is just a device to suck us into an exploration of a broken family and its pain. While we’ll get bread crumbs and reveals as to why there’s a black hole in the back garden along the way, if you’re strictly looking for a sci-fi mystery that offers neatly packaged answers to all questions it presents, this may not be the show for you.

At its best parts, the sci-fi element of Outer Range becomes almost incidental as the narrative focuses on the characters.

A slow burn of the best kind, the exposition here is masterful, slowly drip-feeding us information about the Abbotts, gradually teaching us about their past through their actions in the present. I could truly watch endless, stunted exchanges between this family of emotionally repressed cowboys where what isn’t said tells you everything. Cowboys powered by a massive cast of artists led by Josh Brolin at his best. A terrific performance from an actor known to them, Brolin delicately navigates the trauma, repression and responsibilities of a man out of time.

Not to mention a string of excellent supporting turns, especially from Tamara Podemski as Native Deputy Sheriff Joy. They say big TV will always prioritize character over plot, but in Outer Range, it’s ambience and overriding atmosphere that trumps everything else, thanks in large part to Andrea’s finely crafted soundscape. Bella with the piercing score of Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans. . Between the terrific set of performances and gripping cinema that recalls everything from Arrival to Zero Zero Zero, it’s impressive how much of a hold the series has on us, despite its reluctance to offer easy answers and take giants, more “bingeable”. narrative swings.

In less capable hands, it could easily have made for a frustratingly impatient experience, but there’s something bewitching and hypnotic about Outer Range that compels you to stick with it, even when its hold on you loosens. For much of the fifth and sixth episodes, for example, the delicate balance between character, plot, and atmosphere gets out of whack, and the narrative falters as you start to feel the length. Things are starting to feel too internalized and trippy as the rising stakes and slow-burning plot have started to recede.

At the end of the eight-episode series, I can’t claim to have connected with every aspect of it or understand what it wants in its entirety, but it nonetheless made me feel for and with its characters and their pain, which I suspect the makers would consider a hit. There’s a lot to be said for a show with such a distinct vision that takes for granted, defying so much convention and demands to be palatable There’s a lot to admire in the courage of the show which, at its core, is a fascinating tale of missing persons. People missing, yes, but also people missing their marriages, missing the life they dreamed of, and missing who their loved ones need them to be.

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