Netflix’s FUBAR–An unofficial, but legit, sequel to True Lies is here

Review by C.J. Bunce

Who would have predicted in the 1980s that the stars of two of the most interesting series of the 2020s would be Sylvester Stallone, for Tulsa King, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for his new Netflix series, FUBAR  It’s an action comedy up there with Whiskey Cavalier, a legit spy story that could hardly be more cinematic.  Want proof?  Have someone watch the first episode and don’t tell them it’s not a movie.  By the end of its second episode, you’ll wonder how many seasons it could possibly last.  FUBAR is a twist on both True Lies and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, with Arnold as Luke Brunner (a retiring CIA operative 10-years younger than the 75-year-old actor–and he pulls it off), who learns his daughter is also a CIA operative, played by Monica Barbaro (I’m Charlie Walker, Stumptown).  It’s funny and it has all the action of a 1980s Arnold movie.

In case it’s not in your lexicon, “FUBAR” is the World War II-era acronym for “f’ed up beyond all recognition.”  In the first scene, prolific TV director Phil Abraham (The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men) lets the audience know he’s not messing around with one of the greatest movie stars of all time.  Arnold is back, fully engaged as an agent in the field, shooting up the bad guys to get some bad diamonds for the good guys.  Age doesn’t matter.  In his ear is his handler, Barry, played by Christian Bako (Killjoys), a 34-year-old nerd who watches cartoons and is a great partner for Arnold.  But this isn’t an ordinary mission, it’s supposed to be Luke Brunner’s last–he’s retiring.

Flash forward to a birthday party for Luke’s youngest, and most loved kid, daughter Emma.  They couldn’t be more fond of each other… until they learn each other’s secret.  Emma has been integrated into her dad’s world–she treats Barry like her uncle.  When a common case involving an emerging warlord played by the well-cast Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) puts father and daughter in the field together, the CIA director (The Man in the High Castle’s Barbara Eve Harris), realizes the duo could make a valuable asset–they must work together.

Meanwhile, in a perfect throwback to the movie True Lies, Luke is illegally monitoring his daughter’s boring boyfriend, played by Jay Baruchel (RoboCop, Fanboys), while Emma mocks her dad for thinking he can reignite his relationship with her mother, his ex-wife played by Fabiana Udenio (Summer School).

Despite their wide generation gap, Arnold and Barbaro have no problem establishing chemistry as both father and daughter and buddy cops who aren’t buddies.  The Whiskey Cavalier comparison is apt–the spy stuff is Mission: Impossible and Get Smart-level stuff.  And you’ll feel like you’re watching an action movie.

As you’d expect from any spy show, there’s the “other guys,” the sometimes antagonistic other players in the department.  That’s Fortune Feimster (The Mindy Project), full of some laugh-out-loud one-liners, and Friday the 13th’s Travis Van Winkle.  You’re not sure if you’re supposed to like these guys or find them annoying, and yet they quickly pull you to the “like” camp.

This is not the kind of series you want to binge in a single day or weekend.  This is one to savor.  How many more Arnold shows can we hope for?  You’ll want another season of FUBAR.

This is going to be a fun ride.  Don’t miss FUBAR, now streaming on Netflix.


Leave a Reply