This review is going to be relatively brief because the series does not deserve much more than that. In honor of that brevity, I will say that THE COAST OF THE MOSQUITOS it has all the problems and shortcomings of the vast majority of current series that are produced – and proceeded – based on a commercial niche that works. This adaptation of the novel by Paul Theroux, made into a film by Peter Weir in a very good film of the ’80s, receives here an absolutely mechanical, repetitive treatment, too influenced by series that have become inescapable references of the genre such as the line BREAKING BAD, OZARK and the like. And if the second is a version of the first, this is a copy of a copy. And it shows that there is not much ink left in the machine.
In seven episodes that are, fundamentally, two long persecutions – one on the border between the United States and Mexico, another in the capital of that country – plus some other tense situations in the middle and at the end, which makes THE MOSQUITO COAST is to force and continue forcing a mediocre script so that it generates potential clashes, confrontations, suspense scenes. There is no situation that has internal logic, no series of events that is produced by a real understanding of who they are and what happens to the characters. It’s all whim, jerk, dramatic and emotional manipulation.
A few weeks ago – averaging the season of the series – I saw again INTERNAL SECURITY, a film by German Christian Petzold from 2000 whose plot has several points in common with this one: a family with a teenage daughter (here they are two children, they have a younger child) run away all the time for reasons that are not well known but who are apparently political. And the girl’s attitudes only complicate the safety of her parents, as she permanently craves for a normal life and gets them into trouble, unconsciously or perhaps not so much.
Everything that was suggested and psychologically entangled here is linear, basic, whimsical. Throughout seven episodes there is no talk about the reason why they flee, but here it is different than in the German film because they use it from the suspense, since the boys do not know and ask all the time but, for a reason or another, they never explain. And the boys do nothing more than endanger the lives of their parents, no longer from a complex psychological relationship with the flight itself, but from a combination of inexperience, idiocy, the whim of screenwriters and, in the best of cases, a little of emotional confusion.
Every step of the way, the Foxes complicate and complicate their escape based on unusual attitudes of the boys, both in the United States and on the border (in that bizarre “Red House” where they stop during an episode) and even more. in Mexico City and in other towns in the country. It is a chain of mistakes and errors that goes beyond the doubts that children may have regarding the family’s flight from the North American “capitalist system.” It is pure convenience and speculation, script device. Nobody puts “head in the wolf’s mouth” all the time.
At times, the series mimics MACGYVER (the final escape is to laugh out loud at the amount of problems that are solved by magic), in others to a BREAKING BAD/BETTER CALL SAUL bland and soulless (Mexican mobsters are laughable, the man in a hat chasing them too) and in family mechanics it is an imitation of marital and parent-child frustrations. OZARK, just to mention the most obvious.
The hard-working performances of its cast (Justin Theroux, Melissa George, Logan Polish and Gabriel Bateman) make the series seem at times a little more credible than it is, but every time a tense situation arises it once again demonstrates its fragility. One could also criticize the curiously paternalistic and even bloody vision that he has of that Mexico that, supposedly, is better for the Fox family than the United States from which they are escaping: child spies and murderers, dozens of hitmen, encounters with people who they do nothing but complicate their lives and / or boycott them at every turn. A hell on Earth that, at the same time, is always photographed with that ocher light that Americans use for anything that happens in that country.
Frustrating, lazy, lazy, repetitive. There are seven episodes that one sees thinking that at some point they will establish a rhythm, a logic, but none of that happens. It gets more and more absurd and whimsical until it reaches a season finale that has to be seen to be believed. There will be a second part because, predictably, for a platform with few recognizable products like Apple’s, this action combo is attractive to some part of the public that wants more (or less) of the same. And since only part of the novel was used, there is supposedly solid material to build on. But it is very difficult to think of an improvement.
Note: here I wrote a review after watching the first three episodes in which I made my doubts clear but opened the possibility of surprises. Well, it didn’t happen. In fact, it got worse. In the end, the first episode is the best of all.
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Series: Review of “The Mosquito Coast – Season 1”, by Neil Cross and Tom Bissell (AppleTV +)