From Cinemax and showrunner Greg Yaitanes comes the 70’s hitman thriller Quarry based on the series of novels by Max Allan Collins. Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, Damon Herriman, Peter Mullan, Edoardo Ballerini, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ann Dowd and Tom Noonan, the series just concluded its first 8-episode season.
When Marine Mac “Quarry” Conway returns home to Memphis in 1972 after fighting in Vietnam, he finds that he has been shunned by his loved ones and demonized by the public. Upon his return stateside, Quarry struggles to cope with what he experienced and witnessed while at war and readapt to civilian life. As he struggles to make ends meet financially, Quarry gets drawn into a network of killing and corruption that extends throughout the length of the Mississippi River, and The Broker — the cunning, secretive crime boss who runs the operation — takes a special interest in him.
Quarry is the most intense and atmospheric thriller since True Detective Season 1. From the mind of Max Allan Collins and translated for the smallscreen by former Banshee showrunner Greg Yaitanes, Quarry is a gloomy but fascinating look into the world of contract killers, Vietnam war veterans coping with shellshock, 1970’s race relations and more… The world that we dive into in Quarry is both bleak but captivating as we spend time with Mac (aka Quarry) and each and every other contract killer or their family members. Logan Marshall-Green is our leading man and he is real as hell – I’m not sure he’s acting – I think he just really is THAT guy. And that’s kind of sad when I think about it.
What makes this new series on Cinemax so wonderful though is the eclectic cast of bizarre individuals who round out the show. From gay hitman Buddy (Damon Herriman) and his loving mother played by Ann Dowd (The Leftovers) to the wife (Nikki Amuka-Bird) of Quarry’s best friend and how she’s struggling to keep her family together after suffering a tragic occurrence early on – the characters in this world and their stories are all so damn good that I would watch a show dedicated to each and every one of them.
Now — I will say this – if you’re plunging into Quarry expecting a spiritual successor to Banshee – that ain’t happening. Not exactly anyway… Quarry is a completely different beast of a show and you’ll notice that straight away in the tone. The show is quiet, calm and it explodes when it needs to, usually in astounding fashion. Whether it’s an action scene that kicks off with Buddy slicing a dude’s throat and igniting a firefight, or it’s the one-take masterpiece in the finale where we see why Mac is having a tough time adjusting to the real world…
Greg Yaitanes directed the greatest scene of his career with that Vietnam flashback and the fact that it was in one take blows my freaking mind. The explosions, the intensity all leading up to that horrifying moment with Mac and his grenade… I know I’m still having a tough time getting those images out of my mind… Just… Wow… Unbelievable skills in pulling that monster off guys.
I think the finale – which was an extended eighth episode, might be the best episode of television this year aside from the final two Game of Thrones season 6 epics. Quarry is such an exercise in tension, the way it builds and builds and then ignites in such shocking, stunning fashion – whether it’s a main character getting his face blown off, or a spectacular gun battle…. Quarry pulls no punches and I love it for delivering every single damn episode both in performances/writing and satisfying blasts of realistic carnage.
Let’s talk about The Broker for a minute. This is the man who approaches Mac after he returns home from war and offers him a job and opportunity to settle his friend’s debt by entering into the world of contract killing. Aka – Mac is now a hitman and The Broker pays him to eliminate a host of scumbags. Peter Mullan’s performance as this mysterious Broker might be my favorite new character in all of television for 2016. I love this guy – he’s so delightful and I don’t even give a shit about his hidden agenda (which we find out in the finale is some evil nasty shit – minor spoiler for ya). Mac is always so bitter towards his boss even though the guy is alright for the most part. Hell – all of the targets he sets up for Mac are damn home-runs – none of these dudes are good people…
For a show that is loaded with a lot of testosterone, I have to say that the women kick just as much ass. Mac’s wife, played by Jodi Balfour, is so good. She does something completely unforgivable early on and we almost instantly sympathise with her not long after and that’s not only very strong writing, but it’s a testament to her performance as well. Balfour is really the heart of the series and she helps give Mac a voice when he struggles to find the words – especially in the sequences with Mac’s asshole father and bitch stepmother… I mean – those two… Talk about being horrible parents.
I’m in love with not only the series Quarry – but the entire world that Yaitanes and his crew have created. The music, the people, the action, the Broker and his employees (who are all so damn intriguing), this series is the sleeper hit of 2016 and a candidate for best new show of the year. Mac, Buddy, The Broker, even Tom Noonan’s silent performance as the bearded car dealership guy who arranges the transportation — everything about Quarry is fascinating. I urge you to check it out if you missed it the first time – you will not regret it. Easily one of the top 5 shows of 2016 – it’s perfect.