SFN @ SXSW 15: ‘Mr. Robot’ Hacks Its Way Into Our Lineup [TV REVIEW]
Mr. Robot Is Mysterious, Intelligent and Perfectly Relevant
With numerous companies being hacked in the past year (sorry Target, Google, Neiman Marcus and others), a television series centered around the goal of hacking a giant, evil corporation definitely turned some heads at SXSW. Traditionally, one would go to see a film or show centered around hacking and receive an overly embellished story centered around underdeveloped and unrelatable characters that enter their own world when hacking, often visually represented with swirling numbers, digital animations of non-existent portals or unrealistic hack times. Mr. Robot managed not only to break the mold, but to re-create it.
Very rarely do you see a character this complex given such justice.
Rami Malek immediately wins us over with his portrayal of Elliot, a gifted hacker with a vigilante mindset and a lack of social skills. Like any good introvert, he likes to watch and investigate people. Some may call this creepy, some may call this a hobby, I call this Friday evening. He brings light to the point that he wants to be wrong, but is always right, that everyone has their secrets. To err is human, after all. He will overlook the small things, but has the tip line for the local authorities on speed dial, should you err a little more than most, let’s say with child pornography. All this is done between his therapy sessions, where he loves to turn the tables on his therapist, and his day job, where he hates nearly every minute. A smile, of sorts, can be seen when he is around his friend and co-worker, portrayed by Portia Doubleday. For as serious and emotionally troubled as this character is, he is incredibly likable and flawlessly injects humor. However, this is mostly done with a straight face, so be on the lookout.
We wonder if Slater via Heathers will find his way into this show.
Together the duo works for a corporation Elliot less than favors, which he has lovingly dubbed “Evil Corp.” He looks upon the untouchable men in suits, who know nothing of the technology that has made them wealthier than most can imagine, with disdain. But that’s all they are to him, untouchable. That is, until Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) mysteriously starts communicating with him. Impressed by Elliot’s vigilante escapades, Mr. Robot presents Elliot with a crossroads. He offers for Elltio to join him in hacking the largest corporation in existence to erase the debt of countless people and send Evil Corp into beautiful chaos, while risking everything, or continue his lonely life and vigilante antics while those around him suffer under their crippling expenses, paying a non-tangible, digital debt.
Did we mention how nice the cast was?
Mr. Robot excels in showing the dimensions and depths of humanity, particularly in Malek’s performance, and gives us insight into some of the most realistic hacking scenes to grace the screen (Hackers read and alter code? What?). The cherry on this digitally delicious series is the cinematography, with nods to an 80’s stylistic feel at times. The delicate lines between raw but watchable, and dark, gritty but not cheap are masterfully harmonized. Sam Esmail crafted a timely, complex and intriguing series with beautifully raw characters that captivate.