Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn is known for his bright neon cinematography in films and this time around presents a noir thriller TV series, TOO OLD TO DIE YOUNG.
The series gives us a view from the backseat of a cop car unravelling a story about corrupt police in the criminal world. This has led to some nail-biting and nervewracking moments, all done through our main cop Martin Jones such as simply talking to his underage girlfriend, nude in front of the American flag representing his superiority, power and injustice.
At the beginning of the first episode, I knew I was in for quite a ride, the music is colourful, punching in and out as a police car eclipses the screen. There is a lot of slow panning shots that give us a nice reveal of further information to piece the story on our own. After we meet with the two cops and discover how they view the world and then see Martin’s partner, Sergeant Wadlow (Larry) get shot. The rest of the episode revolves around this domino effect of the murder and Martin going deeper into this corrupt world.
There is something desperate in the vibe of the show, particularly shown through the dead eyes of Martin played by Miles Teller. From the get-go there is feeling that something must have broken inside of him. His words are deadpan and with little interest, only when he is challenged by women do we see a spark.
Which leads to the whole viewpoint Refn may be making about women in the show. Larry hates women, expressed it venomously in the first lines of the episode, then shown soon after as he objectifies a woman he pulled over asking for a hook-up.
Criminal boss, Damian, expresses the same thoughts at the end of the episode, he mentions knowing many men that hate women. Martin doesn’t avoid this description himself, as he is dating an underage girl, with no plans on stopping.
The choice of lighting and the deliberate placement of silence in between dialogue pulled me into the show, it builds the suspense and keeps your heart pounding. The colour scheme is notable, Refn is famous for this in previous works such as Drive and Neon Demon.
He paints a world for Martin who always seems to be in looming darkness only to be backlit with a bright contrasting setting, being drenched in bleeding neon red lights. It symbolises this angry world full of desire and violence he dwells in, of the blues that are coupled with the red to express loyalty of these two contrasting worlds he is in between.
The whole episode is around 90 minutes long and as it hits the middle, it felt it too. Refn made sure this was a cinematic experience with his arthouse film style, the slow camera crawls, the sci-fi music with its psychedelic touch. It’s no wonder an abridged version was showcased in Cannes.
It’s emotionally taxing but with its well written narrative-driven story about misogyny and crime, it seems to have a promising start.
- You can catch up on Prime Video.