(In July 19 review, corrects references in text and credit box to Todd Harthan as writer to read: James DeMonaco)
By Barry Garron
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Looking for action and suspense? You can bank on this hostage drama.
Some of what's in "The Kill Point" looks familiar, but there are enough new twists to keep this eight-hour series feeling fresh and suspenseful. At the same time, casting John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg to play characters on opposite ends of a botched bank robbery turns this series into a riveting game of chess, with hostages as real-life pawns.
The setup is straightforward. Leguizamo plays Mr. Wolf, the leader of a sextet of bank robbers with a careful plan for a daring daytime heist. But these aren't career criminals. They're former servicemen led by their former military platoon commander, fed up with the raw deal he got after long and painful years of serving his country.
When the police arrive a tad earlier than expected, Wolf and four of his men retreat to the bank, where a couple dozen employees and customers become hostages.
ABC introduced a series last fall, "The Nine," about hostages who survived a bank holdup, but "Kill Point" has more in common with Fox's "24." It doesn't flash backward or forward. It stays in the present, pretty much in real time, as move follows countermove and both sides try to bluff and threaten their way to victory.
Vastly outnumbered by a SWAT team, sharpshooters, the FBI and half the cops in Pittsburgh, Wolf and his men would be doomed if not for the hostages. Capt. Horst Cali (Wahlberg), a wily and successful negotiator, is determined to end the situation without making corpses of them.
A few of the hostage characters seem to show up just about every time there's a botched bank robbery. There's the brave old guy with a bad heart, the spunky and hot-looking girl with the rich daddy, the panicky bank manager and, of course, the woman in shock. On the other hand, except for Cali's wife, who isn't seen in the two-hour premiere, there isn't a pregnant woman in the series.
The beauty of James DeMonaco's script is in its subtle complexity. He makes Wolf and his crew vaguely sympathetic but not so much that you root for them. On the other side, Cali is caught in a bureaucratic vise, hampered by the egos of the rich and powerful. Wahlberg and Leguizamo flex their acting muscles in nearly every scene, and director Steve Shill finds the right angle to keep the story taut.
After the two-hour premiere, "Kill Point" will play out in one-hour increments.
Mr. Wolf: John Leguizamo
Capt. Horst Cali: Donnie Wahlberg
Mr. Rabbit: Jeremy Davidson
Mr. Mouse: Leo Fitzpatrick
Mr. Pig: Frank Grillo
Mr. Cat: J.D. Williams
Lt. Connie Reubens: Michael Hyatt
Deputy Chief Abrami: Mike McGlone
Ashley Beck: Christine Evangelista
Abe Shelton: Geoffry Cantor
Executive producers: James DeMonaco, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman; Co-executive producer/director: Steve Shill; Supervising producer: Todd Harthan; Writer: James DeMonaco; Producer: Tim Iacofano; Co-producer: Bill Hill; Director of photography: Albert Dunk; Production designer: Paul Peters; Casting: Avy Kaufman, Donna Belajac.