TV Review – Apple TV+’s ‘Liaison’ is a High-Stakes Global Espionage Thriller with Terrific Leads

TV Review – Apple TV+’s ‘Liaison’ is a High-Stakes Global Espionage Thriller with Terrific Leads

One key to being an effective spy – at least in books and movies – is the maintenance of a proper cover. Getting involved with the wrong people can be highly detrimental, both because it puts them in potential jeopardy and creates a point of weakness for any villain with nefarious aims to exploit. Yet being personally connected can also give someone an advantage into the mindset of a criminal mastermind and make them the only one capable of stopping it. The new Apple TV+ series Liaison shows the perils of complicated entanglements when it comes to espionage.

Liaison centers on two agents with a romantic past now working for different countries – and on opposite sides of the law. Gabriel (Vincent Cassel) is a mercenary hired by French authorities, while Alison (Eva Green) works for the British government. Their paths converge in an unexpected way as a hacking plot reveals a serious threat to European cybersecurity, setting both Gabriel and Alison into action as they race to prevent a major attack from taking place that could prove crippling and devastating for an entire continent.

Vincent Cassel and Eva Green in “Liaison,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

This show marks a first for the relatively new streamer, which already features a number of international programs in foreign languages. Its dialogue is split between French and English, with two French performers very much used to speaking English anchoring a show that transcends borders since its villains don’t bother to distinguish between what they see as Western threats. Behind the camera is Stephen Hopkins, a veteran TV director whose credits on shows like 24 should well prepare audiences for what to expect in terms of pacing and scope, both of which can be described as ambitious.

That’s perhaps why this show, unlike so many others launched by Apple TV+, is dropping just one new episode a week, playing out its narrative over the course of six weeks. It’s a nostalgic throwback to the days of appointment television that, though episodes are now available to stream beginning at 3am Eastern rather than requiring an attentive audience during primetime hours, suggests that enough drama and intrigue can be contained within a single hour to prove sustaining and satisfying rather than depending on eager watchers to sit down and binge an entire season in a single season.

Eva Green in “Liaison,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

The best reason to watch Liaison is the top-tier talent going head-to-head on screen. Cassel has a marvelous way of being cool and relatable at the same time, often providing comic relief without being over-the-top in crucial supporting performances in films like Eastern Promises. Here, he exposes a certain vulnerability while still fulfilling the requisites of the action hero. Green, a fan favorite from Penny Dreadful, brings a less showy nature to Alison, one that still makes her extremely watchable and hides her many secrets well.

Liaison follows in a long line of film and television concepts where the fate of the world is literally in the hands of a few people, something that doesn’t exactly track when it comes to real-world relevance. Yet this show smartly emphasizes its characters rather than the magnitude of what they’re trying to stop, showing how easy it would be for them to fall victim to personal sentimentality when they’re supposed to be working against a ticking time bomb that will allow for no mistakes. Playing the story out over the course of six episodes spares viewers unnecessary filler, showing that a tight narrative can ultimately be quite rewarding even if it feels like it’s over almost as soon as it has begun.

Grade: B+

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

New episodes of Liaison premiere weekly on Fridays on Apple TV+ through March 31st.

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