Colin Farrell Sizzles in Inventive Neo-Noir Drama

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Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin, The Penguin) is sheer perfection in Sugar. The new neo-noir detective drama set in modern-day Los Angeles is a kind of homage to the classic 1940s and ’50s films that defined the genre, and Farrell’s charming yet determined detective, John Sugar, is right up there with Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe and Farrell fully disappears into the role, delivering a stand-out performance. Our protagonist is shrewd, sharp, sexy, and loves to wax philosophical. Brooding happens. Curiosity deepens with every turn. Farrell captures it all so marvelously that you’ll easily be swept away into this story and the dilemmas his characters face.




There are many dilemmas, in fact. For starters, John himself is a mystery. There’s something about his past that he simply cannot shake. Oh, how this series loves to tease. Farrell, who’s also on board as executive producer, is joined by a fantastic cast here featuring James Cromwell (Succession, Merry Little Batman), Nate Corddry (For All Mankind), Dennis Boutsikaris (Better Call Saul), and Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), and Amy Ryan (Only Murders in the Building) delivering powerful turns.

That’s enough to lure you in and keep you watching across eight episodes as John attempts to solve a central mystery about a missing heiress, but hang on a second—creator Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, The Cell) pulls the rug out from under you by Episode 6 in a jaw-dropping twist, making this series one of the most inventive new dramas around and something that will surely have the internet buzzing. The plot thickens…



Solid Story, Great Actors, Big Twists

Sugar 2024 TV Show poster with Colin Farrell

Sugar (2024)

4.5/5

Release Date
April 5, 2024

Cast
Colin Farrell , Kirby Howell-Baptiste , Amy Ryan , Nate Corddry , Dennis Boutsikaris , James Cromwell , Anna Gunn , Alex Hernandez , Eric Lange , Sydney Chandler , Jason Butler Harner

Seasons
1

Distributor
Apple TV+

Pros

  • Colin Farrell is excellent in the titular role.
  • A massive twist in the series will leave fans genuinely shocked.
  • The relationship and dynamic between John (Farrell) and Melanie (Ryan) are authentic and among the best seen in a series in some time.
Cons

  • The final two episodes may divide audiences, with some loving it while others won’t.

Mark Protosevich appreciates the moody, ethereal inner realms in which truth, or at least the search for it, dwells. It’s sprinkled all over this series. The showrunner’s love for neo-noir is evident, too, for as John Sugar attempts to assemble the puzzle pieces of his case, quick cuts to vintage noir dramas fill the screen. There’s a skeptical tone in the voiceover narration. All of it feeds into the neo-noir vibe, making this series a joy to experience.


We first meet John Sugar as he’s called back from an assignment in Japan. His new case in balmy L.A. revolves around the disappearance of Olivia Siegel, the troubled child of an iconic Hollywood family. It proves to become his most dangerous endeavor because the deeper he digs for the truth, the more his own life is put at risk, as well as everybody else he cares about.

Hired by a Hollywood icon, Jonathan Siegel (Cromwell), to locate his granddaughter Olivia, John quickly sizes up the clan. There’s Jonathan’s son, Bernie (Boutsikaris), a middle-aged alpha male who doesn’t want his family’s showbiz empire to crumble. Bernie’s son, David (Corddry), is a mess; he is frantic about his upcoming film and unhinged emotionally by other matters, which are eventually revealed. Family matriarch Margit (Gunn) is at a boiling point, burdened by the weight of her family’s dysfunction yet nonetheless committed to keeping up appearances and the cash flow flowing. However, she has a particularly deep connection with David, which adds to John’s challenges.


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Our P.I. finds allies in the form of colleague/partner Ruby (Kirby), who appears to know John better than he knows himself. Ruby warns him about taking on the missing heiress case, and as the episodes play on, Ruby’s concern becomes an itch for John that won’t go away. All the actors shine in Sugar. The writing is on point, and the editing is tight.


One great thing is that the series offers a twist in the femme fatale role in the form of Melanie (Ryan), who holds information and possibly links to uncovering the truth about Olivia Siegel’s disappearance. Yet, the common bond John and Melanie share isn’t solely based on physical attraction. As the case evolves, their bond strengthens. It’s one of the most honest and real dynamic on-screen platonic relationships we’ve seen in some time, and one that is filled with nuance, rare depth, and illuminating conversations about such things as recovery and alcoholism. About that…

Something More Than Just Neo-Noir

Why is it that John Sugar cannot get drunk? No matter how much the man drinks, he cannot get a buzz. It’s a mystery to those around him. Other questions arise as John zips along in his vintage Corvette—nice touch!—trying to solve his case. Through Ruby, we discover she and John are part of a bigger “mission,” most likely associated with bigger investigations. Jason Butler Harner’s Henry figures prominently in all that, but something about his character leaves you wondering all the more.


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A mystery about a terrible tragedy in John’s past factors into the mix, and it’s what drives him to solve crimes. This adds yet another edgy feel to the series, making the outing a great guilty pleasure. Criminals emerge, which John must fend off, some with brutal force. The action scenes, fortunately, don’t linger longer than they should. The showrunner also does an excellent job of getting John in and out of these situations while driving the plot forward, further heightening the intrigue.

Throughout the provocative caper, deeper musings about humanity and interpersonal relationships emerge. Themes of trust, loyalty, betrayal, desperation, manipulation, and even existence flutter around as John Sugar moves closer to the truth and, perhaps, a deeper acceptance of his own destiny.


The last two episodes will blow you away. It may also divide audiences. It’s such a shocking twist, you may have to rewind and watch again. Let it sink in. It might frighten the hell out of folks who prefer conventional storytelling, even critics who believe shows should play with certain bravura, but we loved it for the sheer guts of pulling it off. Brilliantly shot, wonderfully executed, and captivating from beginning to end, Sugar is an instant classic. Sugar premieres Apr. 4 on AppleTV+. Watch the trailer below.

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