I’ve been watching a lot of Cinemax lately. No, not like that. In fact, I’ve been watching CInemax because the best hard-hitting action series are coming out of the Cinemax camp. Short of Starz’s Spartacus: War of the Damned, there isn’t anything coming out of the other cable channels that comes close to what Cinemax has managed to put out. First there was the paramilitary drama Strike Back and now they give us Banshee.
Banshee is a delightful mixture of sex and violence; it is a raw journey into classic super-masculinity draped in the guise of a crime drama draped in the guise of a cop show. Every violent moment is punctuated with something tender and meaningful. The characters, feral and engaging, are also heavily layered with history.
Banshee is the story of a talented thief who stole from his boss and wound up in jail. Upon leaving prison he seeks out his partner and lover (who happens to be daughter to his boss and also on the run from her father for the theft). He finds her in a town called Banshee and, before he can get to her, winds up in bar fight where the incoming sheriff dies. The thief, in need of an identity and way to get close to his ex, takes on the identity of the sheriff. Chaos ensues.
It isn’t the sex or violence or any moderation of both but the ferocity of the plot that engages. This show moves fast–modern fast. By season’s end most of the major story points will have been resolved. We are not left to wonder about the big questions. Instead we are left to ask: What happens next.
I think that’s a great formula for an action story.