Review by C.J. Bunce
The rich and powerful, they take what they want. We steal it back for you. Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys. We provide… Leverage.
And the best pilot and reboot of the year goes to… Chris Downey, John Rogers, Dean Devlin, and Marc Roskin’s triumphant return of most of the Leverage Consulting & Associates team to the screen in the IMDb TV original series Leverage: Redemption. In the intervening 8.5 years a lot has changed. Now the business has expanded into Leverage International. Beth Riesgraf’s Parker leads the way (but she has a psychologist to help now… a child psychologist). Aldis Hodge’s Hardison has even better tech than he had a decade ago. Christian Kane’s hitter supreme Eliot has expanded his business, too. But somehow Timothy Hutton’s mastermind Nathan Ford has died, and Gina Bellman’s Sophie Devereaux–who was about to tie the knot with Ford at the end of the five-season series in December 2012–hasn’t been able to move forward. That’s where the new series, which feels exactly like a new season, picks up.
Leverage original series executive producer and director Dean Devlin has credited a loyal fan base to bring the team at Leverage Consulting & Associates back after its five-season run from 2008 to 2012. The new series–call it a reboot, a continuation, a sequel, or just a new season–filmed as Leverage 2 and Leverage 2.0 and now titled Leverage: Redemption, quickly catches up viewers who last saw the team in the series finale, “The Long Good-bye Job.” We previewed the new series last year here at borg, as the series tried to get underway in the face of a pandemic. The production made it, creating a season of episodes during the pandemic. It doesn’t show. And the pilot is every bit as good as the best episodes of the initial run.
Of course viewers don’t really know if Nathan Ford is really dead, or if his character will return, but we have to assume he won’t. Filling in for him, much like Jeri Ryan stepped in briefly for Gina Bellman during the series when she was on leave, is The Librarians actor Noah Wylie as a lawyer who has represented one too many crooked enterprises. In the pilot viewers learn that word “redemption” in the title is all about him. At first viewers won’t know what to make of this man Harry Wilson, but he is quick to step into the action. And that action follows the same slick and satisfying storytelling format as the original series. The first encounter incorporates the 1991 Gardner Museum art heist (discussed here previously at borg), the perfect way to get us back into vibe of the story. And the guest star is none other than Homicide, Journeyman, Memphis Belle, White Collar, and fan-favorite actor in so many other series, Reed Diamond, as a wealthy art museum benefactor and drug company exec.
Leverage became a television staple in the crime show genre, right along with Law & Order, Castle, and Without a Trace, a show you could always drop in on. More of a romp like Castle, less drama than Without a Trace, the key was the fun–the ride, the thrill of the path to the end, and the twisty path the players would take this time, even if the end itself (like the revenge on a fraudster, or giving a heartless CEO his comeuppance) got a quick wrap-up. Originally led by Oscar-winning actor Timothy Hutton, the series follows a group of criminals switching sides from committing crimes to using their skills to do good.
This is not a series fans of Leverage will want to binge in one day or weekend. Until we know a second season is ordered, this is a show to enjoy over time. The pilot episode, “The Too Many Rembrandts Job,” perfectly revealed Leverage: Redemption is going to be the real deal. Bellman is perfect. Riesgraf’s Parker is back and funny as ever. Hodge’s Hardison and Kane’s Eliot haven’t changed at all.
They got it exactly right. Look for the first eight episodes of Season 1 of Leverage: Redemption now, only on IMDb TV.