‘Person Of Interest’ Series Premiere Review & Discussion

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Person of Interest Emerson Caviezel Person Of Interest Series Premiere Review & Discussion

One of CBS’ highest-profile new projects for the 2011 premiere season is Person of Interest, a thriller with some very familiar names on both sides of the camera. Does it live up to months of lofty expectations? Read on to find out.

Person of Interest starts in a surprisingly tender way, with the first of a series of flashbacks between mystery man John Reese (James Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ) and his wife. Fast-forward to modern day New York City, where the same man sits on an empty subway car, cradling a bottle of rot-gut and desperately needing a friend and a shave. When a group of uppity gangsters give him the business, Reese dispatches all four instantly, gaining the attention of the police and a shadowy figure.

Enter Mr. Finch, (Michael Emerson, Lost) a mysterious, eccentric billionaire who offers Reese a job and a mission. Finch has access to the U.S. government’s most powerful data collection tool, a supercomputer that can not only analyze crime but predict it.

Finch steals information on low-profile victims-to-be before they become targets, on the basis that the higher-ups don’t care about anything that isn’t a 9-11 sized threat. Finch assigns Reese to observe and protect their first citizen, a young ADA (Natalie Zea, Justified) who may soon be the target of an assassination .

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Throughout the pilot we’re given clues to the backstory of both Reese and Finch. The former is an ex-CIA agent who became dead to the world after the death of his wife. Finch helped build the (mostly) fictional surveillance network made possible by the Patriot Act after the September 11th attacks. The tragedy gave Finch a purpose for spending his billions for the common good, and he saw an opportunity when the more typical crimes being predicted by his machine were being ignored. He’s determined to be a more benevolent version of Big Brother. Both of them are presumed dead.

The action quickly ramps up as Reese tails his assignment and her would-be assignments. Reese tackles underground weapons dealers, mobsters and dirty cops -and all that’s before the twist. Along the way the audience is treated to monologues on the all-pervasive nature of modern surveillance and the morality of using it. Detectives Carter (Taraji P. Henson, I Can Do Bad All By Myself) and Fusco (Kevin Chapman, Rescue Me) have their own reasons for investigating Reese.

The first thing that most viewers will notice about Person of Interest is its undeniable and certainly deliberate similarity to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Everything points to the inspiration: characters, themes, atmosphere, even the music. It comes by it honestly – producer Jonathan Nolan worked with big brother Christopher writing for Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight and The Dark Night Rises. Other big names in the producer chairs are frequent partners J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk.

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All that said, the new show feels like it’s taking the best bits out of Batman and using them to tell a more realistic action story, instead of simply repackaging the essential parts of the Nolan films. The central idea of predictive crime analysis is no longer the stuff of  Minority Report sci-fi, and something similar may enter the world of law enforcement very soon. Person of Interest dodges the privacy debate by putting it in the hands of invisible vigilantes (again, see The Dark Knight) who are more of a somber A-Team than an Orwellian threat.

Caviezel hasn’t been seen in a regular TV role since The Prisoner two years ago. He returns on a high note, painting Reese as a broken, conflicted man with both an intense desire for justice and a hesitancy to use his lethal skills. The combination makes for a calm, calculated fighter who still comes off as sympathetic. His zen-like fighting (and wonderfully sparse dialogue) is at least as good as any B-action flick you’ve seen in the last year.

Emerson provides the counterpoint as a cold, calculating mastermind. His mysterious connections allow him an enormous amount of digital power that he feels a responsibility to use for good. The audience doesn’t know too much about Finch, and his past work with the government will likely be a major plot point in the first season. Emerson is admirably restrained, but those looking for a repeat of his energetic performances on Lost may feel a little let down.

Fans wanting no-holds-barred action will not be left wanting. Stunts and fight scenes in Person of Interest approach and at times surpass 24 in the realm of mostly-real action sequences, and the results are absolutely satisfying. It’ll be interesting to see if the writers and producers can keep up this level of intensity for more than a few episodes – they’ll certainly be worth a watch to find out.

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The pilot features some genuinely surprising twists (much appreciated from a jaded TV reviewer) that will keep you guessing up to the last few minutes. The creepy themes of distrust and complacency make for an excitingly different mood, which are accentuated by the regular use of CCTV angles and “bugged” audio.

Person of Interest is one of the most exciting new shows on broadcast TV this year. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking thriller with solid action and storytelling, look no further – especially if you’re a fan of Nolan’s flavor of caped vigilante.

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Person of Interest airs Thursdays @9pm on CBS

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider

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  1. Any ‘Outlander’ fans out there? Shout out! :)

    • Good stuff!

    • I’ve got it on DVD. Fun movie.

    • Check. Never miss a Caviezel film.

  2. All shot in New York City? I think some faked. Some actual. Subway car was a real New York Subway car. I think Chrysler building behind him was green screened. Surveillance from Church was studio or staged. Central park tunnel was real.
    Sound was less than idea. Key dialogue muffled.
    Overall, four out of five star episode.
    Christ kicks ass. Bill Gates can’t take a body slam.

    • A video at youtube showed how such scenes can be faked. It was amazing that even leaving a building can be deceptively faked with no real building there at all.

  3. I love it!

    Maybe a little more of the same as far as violence portrayed, but it’s James Caviezel’s ways that gives it that particular twist!

    James you’ve had me since Edmond Dantes. I’ll keep watching! :)))

    Thank you,

    O.

    • The 02 version of Monte Cristo is one of my favorites, too.

  4. i’ll wait till it gets season 2 (IF it gets season 2) then netflix it… getting tired of liking shows only to see them axed just as they get good and end on a cliffhanger…

  5. Loved it. Love Jim. And loved Monte Cristo, a fav of mine as well.
    I think the first episode came together as well as one could expect.

    I live where it is “filmed” and it feels like it was. Another reason to love.

  6. I was sure it would be an awesome show. Thanks for the confirmation with this review! Will be sure to check it out.

  7. Great to see Jim Caviezel in a series, as I’ve been a long time fan of his work. The opening narration was a nice touch, I thought, and he brought a sense of credibility and calm to the role (without being Jack Bauer 2.0) Parts of his story reminded me of an earlier Caviziel film, Highwaymen – with the motivation for being a vigilante. The actress who portrays his ‘friend’ Jessica (Susan Misner) is talented too. Hope to see their mystery unfold. Easily one of the better premieres I’ve seen for this season.

  8. I really liked it….I hope it gets picked up for a whole season…I hate how now shows only get one or two eps out before they pull the plug.

  9. Hadn’t seen it yet, after this review I will check it .

  10. My wife and I both loved the pilot last night. We will certainly be watching. Let’s hope the show is watched by many others as well.

  11. Loved it I knew this was gonna be good but it’s even better than I expected. I really loved the show it was just great. The action was impressive and it’s nice to have a decent fill in for 24 now that it’s gone.

    It wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t really flawed in any way. Everything about it was good. It’s not as deep, introspective or complex as Nolans as work, but it’s fantastic.

  12. Michael made a mistake writing this review – Jessica was not John’s wife. Remember the line where he’s confused that Jess didn’t tell her mom about him yet even though it’s been 6 months? When Finch called her “your friend”?

    She was the love of this life – taken away far too early.

    Otherwise great review, great show, looking forward to hearing Jim’s calm, deep voice as he shoots in future.

  13. EDIT: She was the love of HIS life. Sorry.

  14. I loved this show and I do not watch cop procedurals. This is quite different. I also adore how the hero can kick awesome ass, tired of weak heroes. The end shot, wow, what was all that???

  15. I loved the movie the Dark Night and the use of documentary narration and seriousness similarly played out in this Premiere.
    Jim Caviezel was definitely a plus factor to bring into this show and matches up equally to Michael Emerson. Neither actor overshadowed the other as both have distinctive qualities that were portrayed. I noted soon on how Jim Caviezel reminded me of Clint Eastwood with his rustic low voice and delivery of “one liners”.
    I too am a fan of the “Count of Monte Cristo”. I have that in my DVD library. It would be cool for them to bring Guy Pearce into one of the Person of Interest episodes. I liked how Guy and Jim also played off each other’s characters. ***** !

  16. So far this is the only new show I’ve seen this season that I’d be willing to tune in to again.

    • New Girl was food too.

  17. I liked Person of Interest, but i think people with paranoia disorders would
    get freaked out.

  18. Just watched the pilot and CBS picked another winner. With it’s timeslot I think it’s going to do pretty good viewer wise. Plus CBS doesn’t cancel shows without cause (i.e. leaving Sh#t my Dad Says on for longer than it should have) so I think it will be around all season and get a second season pick up.

    It was a great show

    • They did cancel Smith mid-season… ****ers.

      • Great shout out to SMITH! When I mention it, none of my friends know what I’m talking about. Awesome show.

        And PERSON OF INTEREST is definitely my favorite new show of the Fall.

  19. Loved it! I heard someone describe the show as CSI meets Batman! However you describe it, it was filled with mystery and intrigue and the always mysterious and handsome Jim Caviezel. I’ll be watching on Thursday nights.

  20. Loved Outlander. Loved Person of Interest. Cant wait for more. Great how Reese gets it done no matter what. The cop character who has to get ride of the only body on the show has potential to be very interesting too.

  21. AWESOME!! That is as good as a TV crime drama gets.
    I hope it makes it.
    Tell your TV watching friends.

  22. loved it. it was fantastic. BUT i feel though the filming of it, or editing, should really give off more of that dark themed vibe. the directing’s amazing, but i mean mostly the colors and brightness. it’s too bright, scenes are shot too early in the day. this needs to look like the dark knight. more evening and night scenes (like the scene driving to the harbor and the shoot out in the hotel lobby). none of that mid-day crap. also, i love it when the hero gets his hands dirty. examples: reese steals guns, also wearing a ski mask AND shooting at the SUV (fav scene).

  23. like the ep, for some reason i thought it was about time travel, anyway interest enough to put it with terra nova to watch and see list

  24. I am lost as to why no promo’s featured or even mentioned Tarij p. Henson until just recently. She is an Oscar nominated actress. I only knew she was on the show by mistake. Had I known I would’ve made it my business to check it out. Why wasn’t she important enough to mention. Lots of folks have heard of her and enjoy her work. This is the stuff that makes us get on the race train from time to time. Now that I have said it I can move on, sort of.

  25. liked this show

  26. Person of Interest – definitley one of the best shows this season!

  27. Person of Interest is, without a doubt, one of the best shows on television. Great writing, Good acting and directing create a tight story, episode and series. It is so well done most others shows pale in comparison. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. I’m looking forward to a long running series of the caliber we haven’t seen in this genre since 24. Keep knocking it out of the park!

  28. I love this show a lot. I don’t know why. Perhaps because the “heroes” are both soft spoken and do “what” they do, very well. I wish the episodes would come out faster than 1 a week :-)

  29. GREAT new show. Emerson is fantastic… and Caviezel? Very Jack Reacher. Hope it continues.

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