Review by C.J. Bunce
With his Vietnam veteran-turned-hitman Quarry, author Max Allan Collins has built a substantial, possibly never-ending crime noir series. Now at book 14 and adding a 15th this November with Hard Case Crime’s release of Killing Quarry, Collins has surpassed the number of books Collins’ pal Mickey Spillane published about Mike Hammer. Collins has finished or co-authored nearly as many crime novels with Spillane posthumously, reflecting the prolific nature of Collins’ crime writing and expertise. And that’s not even addressing Collins’ noteworthy Road to Perdition, five other book series and countless tie-in novels. Cinemax′s 2016 series Quarry is inspired by Collins’ character, and thanks to writers/show creators Graham Gordy, Michael D. Fuller, with an episode by Collins and another by Jennifer Schuur, you have eight intriguing episodes of television waiting for you. Its eight episodes are now streaming on Vudu, Amazon Prime, other platforms, as well as home video.
Director Greg Yaitanes created a rarely seen snippet of history as the backdrop for the series, with show lead Logan Marshall-Green (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Prometheus) as Mac Conway, dubbed Quarry as the show progresses, accused with his friend of misdeeds in Vietnam as he returns home to Memphis after his second tour. Along with the Vietnam War and its aftermath is turmoil with bussing a desegration that envelopes his friend’s family. Costume designer Patia Prouty, who worked on Almost Famous, Justified, and Pulp Fiction, re-creates the good but mainly the bad designs of the era, with equally good art and production design that will have you feeling like you’re been transported back in time. Conway is quickly reeled into a local (and somewhat yokel) crime underworld, resulting in his friend’s death and requiring him to kill for the local, quirky kingpin to earn off the amount his buddy owed.
It’s Cinemax, so expect more sex and bloody gore than necessary, but you’ll feel enough sympathy for Marshall-Green’s Conway as a put-upon anti-hero that you’ll keep coming back for more as ugly and as strange as he finds his circumstances. The supporting cast fills into the layered characters nicely, with Jodi Balfour (True Detective) as his wife, Peter Mullan (Children of Men) as the kingpin called The Broker, Nikki Amuka-Bird (Doctor Who, Jupiter Ascending) as his friend’s widow, and Mustafa Shakir (Marvel’s Luke Cage) as her mysterious new admirer. Damon Herriman (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) is outstanding as an intermediary with The Broker, a layered character who has his own problems beyond his job as killer and killer’s aide.
Keep an eye out for Bill Irwin (Legion, Sleepy Hollow, Sesame Street, Lady in the Water, Eight Men Out, Don’t Worry Be Happy) who stands out as always, this time as a hotel manager.
It’s a shame the series was cancelled–audiences who stick with it will find plenty of intriguing characters to follow, and the brutality and impact of war, PTSD, and small-town crime, all the result of engaging writing for each episode, nuanced acting, and great inspiration from Collins’ novels. All with a great set-up for future storylines. As short as it is, it’s still worth your time to savor a solid first season of television.
All eight episodes of Quarry are streaming now on Vudu, Amazon Prime, other streaming platforms, and home video.