Original Title: O Mecanismo
Creator: José Padilha
Air Date: 2018
NOTE: This is the review of the Season 1. The review of Season 2 is coming soon with a deeper analysis of the case.
Created by José Padilha, the director of both Elite Squad movies, the 2014 Robocop and executive producer of Narcos, the series depicts the Operation Car Wash, the investigation of a big scheme of corruption involving public companies, big contractors and people in the highest places of the government.
As I first wrote the review, I read some articles available in the main Brazilian media and most the reviews and critiques were of two or three episodes, but I believe we must watch at least one full season to have a proper/more complete view of the work (unless it is too bad to keep watching).
Amidst the reviews, there was also news about leftists mad at the series, some even canceling the Netflix account. There were people calling Padilha names and saying he is a “closet right-winger”.
Now, I can clearly see that the right-wingers retaliated, rigging the IMDb Ratings and possibly other actions that I’m not aware of.
It is not the first time we see this type of thing. From some Alt-Right lads openly using bots to downvote and give bad reviews for “The Last Jedi”, to people campaigning on Facebook to upvote and give good reviews to “God is not Dead”.
Considering this political debate around the series, it is necessary to say that I am NOT going to let my political views influence in the review. And to be honest, none of my political views are even touched in this series, at least in my first view.
I was very excited to watch “The Mechanism” and as soon as it appeared on my Netflix suggestions, I immediately added to “My List” and waited for the release. The concept per se is really interesting because I was expecting something close to Narcos, one of my favorite series, but about recent events, things that still very fresh in the minds of those aware of the corruption scandal in Brazil.
Unfortunately, the high expectations left me disappointed and the same reasons I was excited about, ended up being big let downs.
SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST SEASON OF “THE MECHANISM” FROM NOW ON:
As Narcos and both “Elite Squad”, we have a voice-over narration, but shitty. Instead of the clear voices of Wagner Moura (Elite Squad), Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal (Narcos), we have Selton Mello and Caroline Abras almost whispering with a weird voice.
Talking about Selton Mello and Caroline Abras, the cast is really good. And I could just list almost all cast as an example of good talent, but instead, I’ll just mention Leonardo Medeiros as my favorite.
In spite of all this talent, the characters do not make the actors justice. Every single one is a generic stereotype, underdeveloped and unlikable and the terrible dialogue and the awful one-liners don’t help them.
“My mentor was fucked, and the man I loved didn’t give a damn.” (Verena, E02).
When the “amazing” phrase is said, Ruffo, her mentor, had committed suicide (or so we thought) and no one says “fucked” about such a serious situation of someone you care so much. While Claudio is just a coworker she was dating, in no way we’re led to believe that she even remotely loved him.
“At the end of the night, only Ibrahim came. But I was the one who was ready to fuck them all.” (Verena, E02).
As the quote is cheesy by itself, it demonstrates how everyone talks like a wanna-be-badass uncle with a mullet, cursing and saying weird and embarrassing shit, telling lies about how streetwise he is.
Another example of shitness is when Verena goes to Ruffo’s home and only rambles some incoherent words that lead nowhere and after Ruffo’s wife ask her what she wants to tell them, THEN she says she’ll have to remove her uterus.
The sex scenes don’t seem to fit in the story, I don’t know if it was a problem in the editing room or if it were included just to have some tits. As I’m a heterosexual man I really like tits, but I also like scenes that make some sense when we are talking about a movie, or in this case a TV show.
I think the thing the most annoys me, is related to the sex scenes, but not exclusively: The lighting. In the sex scene, the ambient is always very dark and have some neon, even in the common people’s houses. Strip clubs are the same just adding some flashing lights and some Old School Rap playing (I guess I am going to the wrong whore houses).
A lot of other scenes are very deprived of light. I think it’s a stylistic choice, not a flaw, but a choice I really hate and every time a film or TV Show choose to use it I will probably hate as well. I wished the lighting were more like this last image with Ruffo than the lighting from Verena’s sex scene.
Like I said in the beginning and was said in the series itself, it is not a political right or left thing. Before The Mechanism, I had liked everything I watched from Padilha it’s just that this particular series became somewhat of a shitshow with a very few redeeming qualities. To me, it’s 3.