Review: Amazon's 'The Peripheral' is cool, complex sci-fi if you're up for the challenge

Review: Amazon’s ‘The Peripheral’ is cool, complex sci-fi if you’re up for the challenge

“Fuck off and eat some shit.” No not You. That’s the name of episode 6 of “The Peripheral,” which drops Friday on Amazon Prime.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley Reviews “The Peripheral” on Amazon Prime Video

“Fuck off and eat some shit.” No not You. We would never say that of you, dear reader.

This is the name of episode 6 of “The Peripheral”, which is released Friday on Amazon Prime.

The series is a must for sci-fi fans after five gripping episodes so far. It was created by Scott Smith, whose 1993 novel ‘A Simple Plan’ became Sam Raimi’s 1998 cinematic gem, and produced by ‘Westworld’ creators Lisa Joy and Christopher’s brother Jonathan Nolan. Nolan who gave us the mind-benders from “Memento” to “Inception”.

Based on the 2014 novel by cyberpunk scribe William Gibson, the story is set in the near future as Flynne Fisher receives a virtual reality headset from his ex-military brother Burton, allowing him to operate an avatar on a realistic mission. to witness a potential murder. Turns out it’s not virtual reality; she operates an avatar 70 years in the future.

Chloë Grace Moretz comes into her own after her superhero breakthrough in “Kick Ass” (2010) and her horror remakes in “Let Me In” (2010) and “Carrie” (2013). In “The Peripheral”, she skillfully plays multiple roles – (A) Flynne’s normal self, (B) Flynne operating a future avatar, and (C) her lifeless avatar, waiting for Flynne to put the helmet back on.

She bickers with her brother, played by Jack Reynor (“Midsommar”), a sort of more spirited Chris Pratt. He’s a hothead, but sympathetic, having received cybernetic implants while serving in the US Marine Corps’ “Haptic Recon” unit, literally connecting him to his war buddies. If one was bullied as a child, others will naturally want to kill that bully on sight.

This “haptic” concept of a shared soul also sparks romantic sparks between Flynne and Wilf Netherton (Gary Carr, “The Deuce”), the future guru who hired Burton to protect a now-lost woman named Aelita (Charlotte Riley ). He is warm, but with a cold exterior, due to being raised by adoptive parents who changed his name from Wolfgang to Wilfred.

Much of the character work in the first five episodes is Flynne learning to trust Wilf, who is remotely his best protection against two characters from his normal timeline: evangelical drug lord Corbell Pickett (a delightfully Louis Herthum unresponsive in a three-piece suit) and bounty hunter Bob the Butcher (a methodical Ned Dennehy), who is hired to kill her by a ringing phone.

The greatest villain exists in the future timeline: Cherise Nuland (T’Nia Miller from “The Haunting of Bly Manor”), who runs the Research Institute, one of the three pillars of the dystopian society. She stacks three toasts in an analogy for: (A) the Research Institute, (B) a criminal mafia known as Klept, and (C) the Metropolitan Police.

Life is different in this future version of London, which is largely depopulated due to a cataclysm known as the Jackpot. Directors Vincenzo Natali (“Splice”) and Alrick Riley (“Once Upon a Time”) paint a hazy atmosphere with giant statues towering over the city to act as air filters, while building interiors look high-tech and sleek .

The fun is spotting all the sci-fi nuggets envisioning daily life in the future, from invisible cars parked on the side of the road to skyscraper floor signs that disappear to make you think you’re about to fall. The weapon of choice is an inertia gun that doesn’t fire bullets but a wave of propulsion, which is a rip-off from “Minority Report” (2002) but cool nonetheless.

While the gimmicks are appealing, don’t watch “The Peripheral” late at night if you’re tired. The story jumps so far in time that sleepy eyes might lose track of who is an avatar versus who is real through the parallel actuality of the near future and the future future. If, however, you’re up for an intricate sci-fi challenge, it’s a rewarding Friday night watch.

Wait, what are you still doing reading this? A new episode just dropped! It’s time to fire up Amazon Prime Video and press play to see why Episode 6 tells us, “F**k You and Eat Sh*t.” Viewers in the DC area can only hope this is a message from Jeff Bezos to Dan Snyder.

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