Starring: Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear, Sepideh Moafi, and Ray Liotta
Creator: Dennis Lehane
Despite some pacing issues, Black Bird soars on the performances of and visceral chemistry between Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser (especially Hauser, who creates a monster that you still manage to feel empathy for). That pacing, though. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s almost like the showrunners didn’t realize they only had six episodes to work with because the story moves very deliberately (if not convolutedly) until the finale, at which point it sprints to the end…like, “oh shit, we gotta wrap this up!” It’s hardly noticeable in a binge, though, and this limited series deserves some awards love when the time comes.
Black Bird is a three-headed monster of stellar performances. Paul Walter Hauser is highly unsettling as real life serial killer Larry Hall, while Taron Egerton continues to add to his leading man resume. However, it’s the scenes they share that brings out the best in both men. Each scene they’re in together has an underlying tension you feel at every moment. On top of those two, you also have Ray Liotta with a heartbreaking turn, in what is sadly one of his final performances. A great script, a harrowing story, and solid performances across the board. What more could you want?
For the most part, Black Bird is a relatively familiar procedural, but it’s the performances contained within that elevate it beyond average status. While the detective B-story isn’t quite engaging enough to leave much of an impact, the A-story is firing on all cylinders. Taron Egerton aces yet another meaty role, while Paul Walter Hauser turns in his best work to date. And, of course, there’s also a fittingly poignant performance from the late, great Ray Liotta. The pace does dip somewhat around the fourth episode, but quickly picks back up to deliver a tense and unexpectedly emotional conclusion.
Black Bird, a gritty and tense prison story with an unsettling vibe, cements itself as one of the most intriguing dramas of the year despite some story flaws. While it can be intense at times, you can’t seem to look away with how well it’s shot and edited (credit due to its tight, six-episode season). But what really makes Black Bird sing is the performances of Paul Walter Hauser, Taron Egerton, and Ray Liotta. This limited series is one to check out for any true crime fan!