“A story so insane, you may just enjoy it.”
Netflix’s new spy thriller / science fiction/action series “In From the Cold” is hard to pigeonhole into a specific genre. It opens with a showing of unexpected violence. A fancy party is interrupted by one guy unexpectedly throwing another off a roof. Another elsewhere in Madrid acts out in a racist way against a fellow bus passenger before being chased off the bus by an angry mob. A woman stands up, stabs a mother with her lunch knife and tries to steal her baby. These attacks are unprovoked, the only common thread a strange blue shimmer in the eye before.
Cut to Jenny (Margarita Levieva) visiting Madrid with her daughter Becca (Lydia Fleming), travelling for a competition with her figure skating team. Jenny is captured by a group and taken to be interrogated. They claim that she is an ex Russian spy called Anya “The Wisper”, which she, of course, denies, well that is until her life is threatened and the training comes out. In From The Cold gives its first nod to what it is trying to be. The action sequence is well shot and frantic with plenty of well-paced gritty moves that wouldn’t be out of place for a Black Widow… When trying to escape the thug’s Jenny realises that she is in a training facility that the CIA agent Chauncey Lew (Cillian O’Sullivan) has put together to expose her and her past.
Chauncey (yes, Chauncey…. Who decided on that name) threatens her with prison and ruining her daughters future if she doesn’t work for them in exposing who is using her old “whisper” techniques causing the recent spate of violence.
In From the Cold uses flashback sequences to a younger Jenny during her time as Anya. We find out how she got to be known as The Whisper. We find out about her complicated relationship with another young woman named Faina (Anastasia Martin). The flashback sequences are somewhat of a distraction from the Jenny storyline currently taking place, yet their slower pace suits the moments and story being told.
In From the Cold will take some time to get used to. The first three episodes are convoluted messes. Their storytelling is all over the place yet somehow holds you just enough to get through. The cheesy dialogue is so prevalent you almost expect one of the characters to turn to the screen and wink at you. It’s almost as though someone wrote it in Spanish, translated most of it to English and went, “that will do.” In episode four, something happens. Quality storytelling takes you on a ride that delves more into the concept, and plot twists while present before are now thrown at you at pace. You start to question what is coming next.
The actors also find their feet, non-more so than Levieva (Jenny). Her portrayal of a caring mother conflicted between the pull of motherhood and falling into old habits and worlds of an assassin are well played out. The dialogue is still questionable, yet you just roll with it by this point. I am sure someone talks like that; I’m just not sure who. If our kids do, we are in more trouble than I thought…
The action sequences are the star of the show. They are brutally well choreographed and shot with plenty of switching around to give you that impression of speed and bone-crunching power. Something that, if done poorly, can leave you lost, but when done well, you get a fast-flowing brutal dance.
In From the Cold is a show that ultimately falls a little short of what it is trying to achieve. It is a cool spy action series that would have been better suited to a more concise series that really knows what it wants. It’s biggest bat shit crazy plot twist I won’t ruin; you’ll have to see it for yourself luckily, it happens early. If you’re not swearing at the TV, I’ll be surprised.
Overall, I enjoyed it, but I can switch off and watch just about anything that has action in it. I honestly don’t think a lot will get through the 8 hours of watching. Will it be back for a second season? I doubt it, and to be honest if it is, I probably won’t be there.
In From the Cold is available now on Netflix.
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