ENTERTAINMENT

It Is Genuinely Hard To Believe The ‘Twisted Metal’ Show Is This Good

Twisted Metal

Peacock

When I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but I cannot believe how wrong I was about this one. When I first heard that 7th best streaming service, Peacock, was making an Anthony Mackie-starring series based on PlayStation’s car combat franchise, Twisted Metal, I figured it had a roughly zero percent chance of being good. That we’d head back to the dark ages of horrible video game adaptations before the era of The Last of Us and Arcane. The first trailer, a fight between Sweet Tooth and Mackie’s John Doe set to Sisqo’s “The Thong Song” did little to dissuade that.

What I was not expecting was that Twisted Metal is one of the best video game adaptations I’ve ever seen.

I have no idea how this happened. Truly. But the end result is that Twisted Metal is an amazingly cast, brilliantly funny, surprisingly poignant adventure comedy series that was a genuine joy to watch.

The series spans ten episodes, following Mackie’s John tasked with heading to Chicago and transporting an item back to San Francisco in a world which ended in 2002, and the roads are now ruled by murderous gangs. On the way he meets Quiet, a would-be thief, played by Brooklyn 99’s Stephanie Beatriz, and the two soon run into the monster that rules a ruined Las Vegas, Sweet Tooth, the psychotic clown played by a combination of wrestler Samoa Joe’s body with Will Arnett’s voice, Darth Vader-style.

Twisted Metal

Peacock

The casting here is excellent. This is easily the best thing I’ve ever seen Anthony Mackie in, and that includes every Marvel project and The Hurt Locker. He’s genuinely funny and likable, as is Beatriz’s Quiet who shows a range well beyond her gruff demeanor in Nine-Nine. The two have chemistry throughout the entire series and are the main reason it works so well.

Sweet Tooth himself may steal the show, however, a brilliant take on the character which makes him somehow…extremely sympathetic? While also making sure he’s chopping people’s heads off with regularity. I thought the idea of combining a wrestler with a comedian for a Frankenstein-like take on the character was goofy. In fact, it works extremely well and Sweet Tooth is just fantastic.

I was also not expecting the world-building to be so good here. The divide between the walled-cities and the outside is stark, though monsters lurk in both places, as revealed by a flashback to an apocalyptic Orange Country where rich citizens have silent slaves who get fingers and ears cut off if they disobey (and their owners then wear them as jewelry). There are Holy Men who have forsaken God to live out the seven deadly sins. There are wannabe cops trying to police the desolate landscape, returning law and order to the land by killing almost everyone they meet. It’s one of the most interesting, darkly comic versions of the apocalypse I’ve ever seen on film, and I love it.

Twisted Metal also has a shocking amount of emotional resonance to it. Not just through John and Quiet’s relationship, but hearing Sweet Tooth’s backstory, understanding John’s relationship with his car. Yes, this show somehow makes the friendship between a man and an automobile perhaps the most genuinely compelling sequence of the series.

Twisted Metal

Peacock

The details are great. The fact that since the world ended in 2002, there is no music made past that time period, so we’re listening to Cypress Hill, Hanson and Evanescence. There’s a sequence involving a burger joint ball pit and J-Kwon’s “Tipsy” that you will not forget.

If the show has weakpoints, I can’t say that I thought Thomas Hayden Church’s Agent Stone was a terribly compelling villain, even after learning his backstory. He’s just very flat and not even very intimidating in a land full of much more vicious monsters. It feels like season 1 is just set-up for more interesting villains like Raven and Calypso later.

There’s also not a ton of car combat, and none that’s all that exciting or creative. This is where budget limitations of a Peacock Original probably come in. I just hope that Twisted Metal gets a second season greenlit before the (extremely unprofitable) streaming service gets shuttered.

I cannot believe how good this show is. This is the largest gap between expectations and reality I can remember seeing in some time. What should have been a trash fire is instead a gem, and I’d recommend it to anyone whether you’ve played the game or not.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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