The Blacklist starts with an interesting premise: a fugitive from the FBI’s most wanted list, Raymond “Red” Reddington (played by James Spader) , wanted for two decades, turns himself in to the FBI and promises them that he will help them find international criminals (“the blacklist”). But there is a catch, Reddington will only work with newly-minted FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (played by Megan Boone). It soon becomes apparent that Reddington has a connection to Keen, which Keen herself is unaware at first. As Keen and Reddington work to bring criminals from the blacklist to justice, more and more details about Reddington’s connection to Keen are revealed.
Reddington is a concierge of sorts to many of the planet’s most ruthless criminals and often pits them against each other to capture one of the blacklisters. Reddington was in Naval Intelligence before he went rogue and has knowledge of classified, even damaging national secrets.
Spader is well cast as Reddington, an erudite yet ruthless and deadly criminal with many secrets. Spader plays Reddington as an oily raconteur who doesn’t hesitate to kill enemies if it furthers his agenda; before dispatching an enemy, Reddington’s modus operandi is to regale him/her with a witty or pithy anecdote about a past deal with another criminal .
Likewise Megan Boone is well-cast as a new FBI profiler who is in over her head initially. Boone gives her character a raw physicality which makes her believable as an FBI agent. She doesn’t know whether or not to trust Reddington, he is an internationally wanted criminal after all. But she learns to work with him despite this distrust.
The Blacklist is very addictive; each episode reveals more and more of Reddington, mostly in contrast to the criminals he is bringing down. Rather than the stock villain or hero, Reddington is something of both, although mostly he is a criminal. Usually, bringing down another criminal expands his own criminal empire, ostensibly for the good of the United States.
Worth a look if you like intelligent crime thrillers with international, political implications.
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