Movies

‘Walker’ review: A forgettable reboot which takes itself too seriously

Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker in ‘Walker’   | Photo Credit: Rebecca Brenneman

The prolific American freelance satirist and cultural critic Joe Queenan had once described the Chuck Norris-starrer Walker, Texas Ranger as a show ‘so corny and predictable that it appears to be in slow-motion even when it’s not.’ His words were echoed by many other critics across the U.S. who panned the production upon its release in 1993. Its 2021 reboot, simply titled Walker, seems no different.

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Characterised by a drab plot and an uninteresting cast of characters, it appears to be an undertaking bordering on the juvenile. Creator Anna Fricke chooses to adapt a rigid, pedantic approach at presenting the show’s narrative, rendering it a drag from the get-go. Its most glaring flaw being the warped sense of morality, which it tries to force on its viewers with every given opportunity.

Walker
  • Creator: Anna Fricke
  • Cast: Jared Padalecki, Lindsey Morgan, Keegan Allen
  • Storyline: A widowed father returns to Austin after two years, attempting to reconnect with his children, navigate clashes with his family, and find common ground with his new partner, while growing increasingly suspicious of his wife’s death

Walker is eerily reminiscent of a time in American television history when shows adhered to crude archetypes of one-dimensional storytelling, dumbing down its content for a wider reach. Here is the plot in a nutshell:

The lead protagonist, Texas Ranger Cordell Walker (Jared Padalecki) is a widower and father of two. He returns to Austin (the capital city of Texas) after being undercover for two years to make up for lost time with his son August (Kale Culley) and rebellious teenage daughter Stella (Violet Brinson).

He also tries to solve infighting between his other family members while teaming up with Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan), one of the first women in the Texas Rangers’ history, to fight crime. All the while, he is plagued by his wife’s death and eventually goes about investigating the somewhat mysterious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise.

Lack of interesting characters

In the pilot episode made available for review, the lead character of Walker has all the spotlight, reducing other actors to a rather ornamental presence on screen. Padalecki, with all the best lines and the most amount of screen time, shines — though his character is predictable and lacking in shades of gray. This makes it difficult to root for him even when he tries his best to come across as a ‘woke’ southerner with a keen eye for crime.

Lindsey Morgan as Micki Ramirez, Coby Bell as Captain Larry James and Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker in a still from ‘Walker’

Lindsey Morgan as Micki Ramirez, Coby Bell as Captain Larry James and Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker in a still from ‘Walker’   | Photo Credit: Rebecca Brenneman

Among the supporting cast, the character of Liam (Keegan Allen), Cordell’s ADA brother seems steadfast but sounds disingenuous at times, owing to a lack of timely development of his character arc. His discerning mother Abeline (Molly Hagan) and old-school rancher father Bonham (Mitch Pileggi) also drift along aimlessly throughout the episode, failing to add any value to the narrative. Coby Bell as Cordell’s boss Larry James is inexpressive, lacking the tone of authority omnipresent among high ranking law enforcement officials.

Interaction between the characters themselves, lack fluidity, mostly due to uninspired dialogue writing. Fricke’s screenplay fails to etch out believable characters and intriguing story arcs. Instead, one is subjected to a rather monotonous display of incongruous scenes lacking in the thrill and novelty befitting a crime drama. Case in point, the scene where Cordell comforts his children after ignoring them for months on end. Rather than moving one emotionally, this moment from the show makes one cringe at the display of farcical family drama on offer.

A frivolous approach to complex issues

Attempts at depicting issues like gender parity, immigration and border control seem half-hearted. This lack of earnestness in dealing with complex motifs lends the show with an air of frivolousness, making it difficult to take the entire production seriously. Despite this, the camera work and production design values are spot on. The creators capture action sequences with relative ease, setting up the tempo of the show. The fight sequences themselves are neatly choreographed, enhancing the conflict in the narrative.

Not for long does this manage to tape over some of the glaring deficiencies of the show, making it clear that there are some major issues at the heart of the production. Thus, after the disappointing pilot, it is up to the upcoming episodes to rescue the sinking ship. Otherwise, this reboot may get buried under the sheer volume of competent web shows in circulation.

Not only that, its high handed depiction of American law enforcement — which has come under scrutiny in recent years — can lead to the production drawing the wrath of the same section of American society it desperately wants to appeal to.

Walker will be streaming January 22, 12:30pm onwards, only on Voot Select

 

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 2:13:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/walker-review-a-forgettable-reboot-which-takes-itself-too-seriously/article33608312.ece

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