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 Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews

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PostSubject: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:54 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/2011/08/13/tv_review_strikeback_episode_one_recap_and_review_spoilers/

TV Review: Strike Back Episode One, Recap and Review (SPOILERS)
Thompson on Hollywood

Anglophile critic David Chute takes on yet another new Brit/American co-production, Cinemax’s Strike Back.

So fast-paced it makes 24 look sluggish, and with a brighter, livelier tone that embraces both multi-cultural inclusiveness and macho backslapping, the Sky/Cinemax, UK/US co-production Strike Back is first rate pulp TV, with enough unexpected heart and authenticity to guarentee that its thrills are never cheap. A counter-terrorism action series, it probably isn’t grim or one-sided enough to be adopted by ideologues of any stripe, and it isn’t in the superhero business. Loud and fast and brightly colored, with sudden up-against-the-wall sex scenes that keep the volume turned up to eleven between the fire fights, it is also the kind of show about the military that focuses on the day-to-day stresses of trying to stay alive on the ground, leaving the overriding political issues to the suits at headquarters. (In addition to echoes of 24 and M-15 it has a commitment to staying grounded in day-to-day believability that recalls David Mamet’s underappreciated The Unit.)

Strike Force is the second cross-pond collaboration this season on premium cable that thrives by kicking an established British series into edgier late night territory. The BBC/Starz collaboration Torchwood: Miracle Day is the Americanized fourth season of a show whose pedigree as a spin-off of Doctor Who goes back almost fifty years. Strike Back is a bit younger than that: its only previous season, on Sky 1, starred Richard Armitage (ex-MI-5, now Peter Jackson’s Thorin Oakenshield) and Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead) as black operatives. They work for Section 20, a clandestine British unit of terrorist hunters, and as one-time antagonists they work each other.

Based on a novel by the pseudononymous Chris Ryan, an ex-SAS commando whose stock in trade is the authenticity of his details, and filmed in South Africa, which stands in effectively for both South Asia and the Middle East, Strike Back has surprisingly dense textures for a show that always seems to be dashing of somewhere with a gun in its hand.

The emotionally dark and intense first season had elements of noir suspense inherent in the bruised watchfulness of protagonist John Porter (Armitage), an SAS officer who is a undercover operative of reckless courage, with an element of paranoia suspense generated by suspicions of a colleague. (No spoilers here, in case fans of the current series decide to seek out its worthy predecessor.)

This juiced-up second series feels younger, less conflicted, more kung-fu acrobatic. Its first new episode focuses less on the brooders and skulkers who gather information than on “the boys,” the lads, the go-go-go special forces jocks who are dropped in afterward to act on it, with night-vision goggles and extreme prejudice. The situation in the pilot is an impressively researched and staged hotel invasion in New Delhi that seems to be a deliberate imitation by the perpetrators of the 2008 takeover of the Taj hotel in Mumbai – but to what end? A veteran Section 20 operative sacrifices himself to send the coded message that brings the team to the hotel disguised as tourists, only a few minutes before the terrorists swarm in. With Section 20 inside, and some Indian cops and at least one friendly Pakistani agent milling around outside, a two-handed Die Hard in a hotel situation seems to be developing.

The most promising aspect of the new Strike Back is the nature of the conflict that is being set up between the alert and dedicated Stonebridge of Philip Winchester (Crusoe), an American playing a Brit, and the Damien Scott of Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom), an Aussie playing a Yank. Both are Baywatch handsome, but they are also plausible, as soldiers and individuals. Stonebridge is a convincing lifer who believes that planning and coordination save lives, Sullivan a wild-eyed risk taker and compulsive womanizer with a glint of real madness, a loose cannon who could actually be dangerous.

Scott and Stonebridge were already well on their way to forging a bond under fire at the end of episode one, but the distinction between them goes beyond the standard off-the-shelf personality quirks of most buddy movies. It hinges on fundamental issues of hope vs. cynicism, discipline vs. self-indulgence. We honestly do not harbor much doubt how the conflict will be resolved, but it should be fun getting there.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:14 pm

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/strike-back-premiere-preview-cinemaxs-222738

August
12
6:34 PM 8/12/2011 by Jethro Nededog

Sullivan Stapleton - Philip Winchester - Strike Back - Cinemax
Liam Daniel/Cinemax

Cinemax’s first primetime scripted series, Strike Back, which represents its burgeoning slate of original programming, premieres Friday at 10 p.m.

The series follows two intelligence agents, British Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and former U.S. Delta Force officer Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) -- both members of an elite counter-terrorism team. The series follows the men and their team across the world as they try to track down a dangerous international terrorist named Latif.

The series co-stars Eva Birthhistle, Amanda Mealing, Rhashan Stone, and Michelle Lukes. Cinemax co-produces the series with British channel, Sky.

As part of its original programming push, Cinemax is also developing a new series with True Blood executive producer Alan Ball, as well as one based on the Transporter film franchise.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:25 am

http://www.buzzfocus.com/2011/08/12/strike-back-series-premiere-review/

'Strike Back' is an Explosive New Series that Brings the Glory of '24' & 'The Unit' with 'Bourne' Film Style
By Bags H. : August 12, 2011


This summer’s hot blockbuster action movie has finally arrived. However, instead of catching this film in theaters you can catch it on Cinemax. And, by the way, it’s an original TV series and not a movie.

Cinemax’s new series Strike Back is an explosive action drama that harkens back to the days of 24 and The Unit. Instead of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) saving the world in 24 hours or a group of soldiers under the leadership of Snake Doc (Dennis Haysbert) attacking the mission of the week, this series focuses on a secret British Military Intelligence Unit called Section 20. This show is about hunting down terrorists, keeping the world safe, and giving viewers an hour each week of adrenaline. There’s also a touch of conspiracy shrouding Section 20.

strike back

The series uses familiar archetypes. Camelot’s Philip Winchester stars as Stonebridge, the clean-cut soldier who likes to stick to the rules. Animal Kingdom star Sullivan Stapleton plays Damien Scott, the reluctant and brash ex-delta force soldier who fulfills the part of the rogue. He also has a vendetta for being dishonorably discharged. Also, the lead terrorist just happens to be Middle Eastern, completing the cliché for a government-run special-forces action story.

Although the series premiere relies heavily on these clichés, the archetypes are slowly broken down over the course of the first four episodes. By episode 4, viewers will really get the sense that this series is unlike any action series we’ve seen before. Why? For starters, it’s filmed more like a Bourne or James Bond tale. Instead of taking place on a studio set, much of the action is filmed on location throughout Europe and Africa. It really expands the scope of this drama, making all the action seem that more real. The International flavor and broader respect for culture, will give viewers a more reverent action series.

Like the early days of 24, the producers are not afraid to take risks. Stonebridge and Scott will be forced to suffer. Both Winchester and Stapleton get a lot of wiggle room to flex different facets of their personalities. For instance, in the first two episodes, we see an endearing side of Stapleton during a hotel hostage situation. It doesn’t take away from his machismo; it only makes you look at him as a brute with the heart of gold like X-Men’s Wolverine. But, he is also the kind of guy that will shoot again to make sure you’re dead, then shoot you once you’re dead just “because”. There are also strong secondary characters that start to work their way into the forefront of action like Colonel Grant (Amanda Mealing).

strike back

Strike Back isn’t without its fanciful moments. As a rogue, Scott just happens to be a magnet for women. It doesn’t take much for Scott to end up with his pants down, butt cheeks exposed. Still, he gets the job done. The series gives off the sex factor of a feature film without the network limitations of 24 or The Unit. There are a few predictable turns, but the actors make sure that each nuance is just as exciting as the last.

Stonebridge and Scott don’t go for the typical bromance relationship you’ll see on Hawaii Five-0 or White Collar. Each episode focuses on maintaining high stakes. If personal relationships are brought into play, it is done so while under fire. There is enough action to prevent that kind of meandering and keep these two working together with mutual respect.

Strike Back is the top new series to check out before the end of Summer. It’s International and strong character development will immediately satisfy fans of Bauer and The Unit who have been missing out on extreme TV.

Strike Back premieres on Friday, Aug 12 at 10 PM ET/PT.

Rating:

8 / 10

Check out this 6-minute preview from the Strike Back Series premiere below and be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below:
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:38 am

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/146070-strike-back/

'Strike Back' Has That Direct-to-Video Aesthetic
By Brent McKnight 12 August 2011
A Little Bit Gritty

On 12 August, when Cinemax airs the first episode of the new action series Strike Back, it may look vaguely familiar to UK audiences. The first collaboration between Cinemax and Britain’s Sky1, this Strike Back is less a second season of the British show than a spin-off, and will be broadcast in the UK as Strike Back: Project Dawn.

The first season followed a pair of British intelligence agents, John Porter (Richard Armitage) and Hugh Collison (Andrew Lincoln), who work for the ultra-secret Section 20, a clandestine branch of MI-6 that specializes in high-risk, high-priority targets. They were tasked with tracking down and thwarting terrorists, and the six episodes were titled for their locations, including “Iraq” and “Afghanistan.”

The new series begins with Porter in the hands of the notorious terrorist known as Latif (Jimi Mistry), who has sworn to unleash devastating attacks against the West. In order to spoil Latif’s plan and hamstring his Jihadist organization, Section 20 must employ Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a dishonorably discharged former member of the U.S. Delta Force. When Sergeant Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) tracks Scott down, the two military men form an uneasy alliance and a shaky trust as they track Latiff and his associates across the globe.

Despite some obvious faults, Strike Back is a decent enough action yarn with slick production values. At the same time, though, the series is more concerned with gratuitous nudity—this is Cinemax, after all, so each episode includes a lifetime’s worth of breasts and butt cheeks—than creating a story with any substance, character, or emotional weight.

This lack is drawn out across two-episode arcs, in which the agents of Section 20 focus on specific missions, like attempting to prevent the abduction of a key military strategist in India, or stopping an Irish mercenary (Liam Cunningham) from procuring a deadly nerve toxin. Each of these segments might be thought of as a stand-alone film, or a serialized police procedural; they have internal logics and most loose ends are tied up at the end.

If Strike Back was in fact a movie, it would most likely fall into the direct-to-video market. This isn’t necessarily bad, as the DTV market spawns some of the best action cinema currently being produced. Movies like Blood and Bone and Universal Soldier: Regeneration, while not groundbreaking, are solid throwbacks to bygone days when action films featured fierce badasses engaged in gun battles and car chases, as well as lively stunts instead of massive set pieces or excessive green-screening.

Strike Back has that DTV aesthetic: a little bit gritty, a little bit dirty, lacking some refinement in areas like script and acting, and relying heavily on action to move things along. The agents of Section 20 run from one action set piece to the next. When you first meet Scott, he is having loud sex with his girlfriend. In a series of brief scenes, he’s in a rigged underground bare-knuckle boxing match, fleeing from some gangsters, and then fighting them.

Even with the tenuous causal connection, these events don’t do much to advance a narrative. Instead, they make clear that Scott (and Stonebridge, in other sequences) are ultra-men being ultra-manly. Over the course of the first four episodes, each one is given a few dominant personality traits. Scott has a problem with authority and will hit on any woman with a pulse, while Stonebridge is duty-driven, despite the fact that he’s cheating on his wife. Sometimes, they reveal hints of conscience or background, as when Scott saves a child to show that he really is a good guy at heart. You recognize these attempts for what they are, plot devices designed to elicit a more or less kneejerk audience response.

Just so, everything in the world of Strike Back is very black and white. Terrorists are terrorists mostly because they’re bad people, there’s no other underlying reason for their actions. The military men are heroic and brave because military men are heroic and brave. I almost want to say that Strike Back is a piece of pro-West propaganda, but even that might be giving the show too much credit. It offers no obviously considered commentary on today’s wars or geopolitical conditions. It’s more a videogame, where war occurs because that’s simply how things are.

Rating:
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:54 am

http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/tonight+Strike+Back/5246619/story.html

TV tonight: Strike Back

By Alex Strachan, Postmedia News August 12, 2011

Summer burn-off season continues Friday night with the debut of a new international conspiracy thriller series, Strike Back.

Summer burn-off season continues Friday night with the debut of a new international conspiracy thriller series, Strike Back.
Photograph by: Handout, HBO Canada

Summer burn-off season continues with the debut of a new international conspiracy thriller series, Strike Back, a U.K. Sky Broadcasting co-production originally commissioned for the HBO-owned movie channel Cinemax and debuting Friday in Canada for the first time.

The plot will ring a bell with anyone familiar with 24, the U.K. series Spooks and any number of espionage knock-offs. An international terror group is plotting an attack, and the only thing standing between the baddies and peace and quiet is a charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative, who links up with a covert British tactical unit.

Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton plays the lantern-jawed He-Man tasked with saving the world as we know it. Philip Winchester, last seen in the short-lived adventure series Crusoe, plays the more by-the-book team leader who serves as the hero's moral sounding board and father confessor. The supporting ensemble is rounded out by Amanda Mealing as a rule-breaking tough gal, and Richard Armitage -- the actor, not the former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, though, given the subject matter, you could be forgiven for confusing the two -- as a covert agent who manages to get himself captured and held hostage in the series opener.

Strike Back was written in part by one-time X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz and was filmed in Hungary and South Africa, filling in for England, Chechnya, Malaysia and India, so you know pretty much what to expect: a brisk, fast-paced, not overly demanding action thriller. Perfect for summer viewing, in other words, if you're too tired to go out to the movies and look for something more substantial and meaningful, like The Whistle Blower.

Strike Back is actually the second season of a series, even though it's being pitched to viewers as something entirely new. The first season, based on the novel by former Special Air Service commando Chris Ryan, also featured Armitage, but otherwise featured different characters and actors in a tale loosely based on real-life events in Basra, Iraq, and set in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The new Strike Back has yet to air in the U.K., where its name has been changed to Strike Back: Project Dawn.

Whether it's for you depends on your taste. Critics' notices of the first season ranged from the qualified rave ("a Die Hard-style thrill around every corner!") to the decidedly muted ("a pathetic male fantasy"). As always, the truth is likely to fall somewhere in the middle.

(HBO Canada, Friday 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT)
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:57 am

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cinemaxs-strike-back-a-vigorous-sprint-across-a-macho-minefield/2010/11/19/gIQA5OIW9I_story.html

Cinemax’s ‘Strike Back’: A vigorous sprint across a macho minefield

By Hank Stuever, Published: August 11

What kind of intelligence expert can accurately measure the razor-fine line between a compelling, macho action-ad­ven­ture drama and a ridiculous one? Especially when the line is always moving? It’s either Jason Bourne or Jason Statham — and a lot of tripwired stupidity in between.

One part of the equation must surely be the viewer’s mood: “24,” a prime example, came along just when a certain kind of television watcher craved a Sept. 11-era kick in the pants, a cathartic and wildly implausible escape hatch from headlines.

Video

Mood, then, might explain why I’m so taken with the first four episodes of “Strike Back,” a surprisingly stylish and addictive new counterterrorism series premiering Friday night on Cinemax. It’s a joint production from HBO-owned Cinemax and British Sky Broadcasting. It’s also a sequel of sorts to a British miniseries, but pretend I never said that. (Also, for the sake of this review, pretend you have Cinemax.)

“Strike Back” follows the intense folks who work for Section 20, a highly classified British black-ops unit. Endowed with Jack Bauer’s remarkably nimble Internet access and Donald Rumsfeld’s penchant for creative interrogation, Section 20 hotly pursues a mysterious mastermind named Latif.

After a bungled attempt in Pakistan to rescue one of its agents from Latif’s terrorists, Section 20’s stone-cold commander, Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) enlists the help of Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a former Delta Force operative, to help track Latif. Scott, who was kicked out of the U.S. Army’s intelligence unit during the Iraq war, is found in Kuala Lumpur, working as a kickboxer and living in a whorehouse.

Scott is paired with Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, played by hunky Philip Winchester — and yes, it does seem as though all the actors’ names could also be character names; and why bother with names at all? Here is all you need to know: The American has the dark hair, and the British guy is the strawberry blond. This is one of those shows where a fella sooner or later has to figure what to do about the ticking bomb strapped to his pectorals.

“Strike Back” is really a study in successfully crossing a minefield of testosterone cliches, barely avoiding a “MacGyver” here and a Vin Diesel there and Guy Ritchie project over there. As the action moves to Mumbai, where Latif and the terrorists hold hotel guests hostage (and then to South Africa, where a former IRA thug is attempting a heist on Latif’s behalf), something about the show just clicks: It’s serious without being hammy. It’s violence without overkill. It’s hawkish without becoming jingoistic. The writing is almost entirely expository, but the acting (really, it’s the British accents) tends to gloss over that shortcoming.

And it’s on Skinemax, which means the sex scenes are sweaty, ravenous and yet studiously soft-core.

Winchester’s Stonebridge is a conflicted good guy, with a wife at home in London who pines away for a baby and with a covert affair with a female agent at Section 20. Stapleton’s Scott is the real find here, a thoroughly unlikable loser who becomes more winning with each episode and frankly saves the show from a dour sense of duty. Though he plays an American, Stapleton is an Australian actor who seems to have been created in a laboratory experiment that grafted Ewan McGregor’s personality and smile onto Hugh Jackman’s body — with more than adequate results.

But “Strike Back” is not merely a Men’s Health cover; it’s a fully realized, invigorating workout. Fans of “24,” which bowed last year, still ask me how to fill that void. They want just enough intelligence-agency hooey to make the unbelievable seem somewhat real. Until “Strike Back,” I didn’t have a good answer. Now I do.

Strike Back

(45 minutes) premieres Friday at 10 p.m. on Cinemax.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:58 am

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/2011/08/12/2011-08-12_strike_back_review_actionpacked_cinemax_series_follows_in_footsteps_of_schwarzen.html

'Strike Back'
Article Rating

'Strike Back' review: Action-packed Cinemax series follows in footsteps of Schwarzenegger, Seagal

David Hinckley

Friday, August 12th 2011, 4:00 AM

If something has been missing from your TV screen since "24" went off the air, like an unapologetic, fist-pumping, nonstop action thriller with compelling good guys and loathsome bad guys, Cinemax's new "Strike Back" needs to be your appointment television for the next 10 weeks.

It would be plenty good enough if "Strike Back" were just a TV reincarnation of all those Steven Seagal action flicks from a few years back. Because, sadly, the industry seems to have given up on that kind of popcorn thriller, figuring the audience either prefers special effects or is playing video games.

"Strike Back" fills the void beautifully, with the added bonus of two reassuringly smart and occasionally flawed good guys, instead of one. The team: Sullivan Stapleton as Damien Scott, a disgraced former U.S. Delta Force operative, and Philip Winchester as British Sgt. Michael Stonebridge.

Their mission is to stop a shadowy conspiracy by Islamic radicals from employing some of those weapons of mass destruction that were not found in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

One premise of "Strike Back" is that Saddam had those weapons, but the radicals stole them.

These terrorists present a moving target, baffling both U.S. and British intelligence services. So naturally, Scott and Stonebridge, who are on the front lines, need to do quite a bit of freelancing and improv to stay alive.

Among other things, they must figure out whom to trust, since "Strike Back" suggests many of our nominal allies really aren't.

Whoever is on first, it's clear that the bad guys are truly evil. Evil like in plotting biological warfare and sneering when they shoot a boy in the head while forcing his parents to watch.

"Strike Back" is a little cartoonish in the same way Seagal or Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies were cartoonish, exaggerating characters and action.

But "Strike Back" also differs sharply and significantly in that the villains here aren't the random abstract caricatures from those films, like throwback Nazis or Jamaican druglords.

The bad guys here are terrorists, and a month from the 10th anniversary of 9/11, terrorists remain all too real in the minds of most Americans.

They give "Strike Back" an added level of intensity, because we have a more visceral sense of the potential consequences.

Curiously, what doesn't add to the intensity are the violence, sex and language, which are about on a par with what you'd see in an R-rated action movie.

What pumps the adrenalin here is the evil, not four-letter words or gushing head wounds.

It's also worth mentioning that this is really the second "season" of the story. The first season ran in the U.K. before Cinemax became the BBC's partner for this season.

It's presented, however, in a way that doesn't require the viewer to know any back story to appreciate what unfolds.

Let the action resume.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:24 pm

http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/television/reviews/view/2011_0812cinemax_drama_strikes_out/

“Strike Back” series premiere tonight at 10 on Cinemax: C+

It took creative people in two countries to boil this testosterone stew of “Die Hard” and “24.”

Cinemax teams with British Sky Broadcasting for “Strike Back,” a 10-episode drama about a covert British organization roaming the globe to thwart a terrorist cabal.

When a rescue mission in Pakistan goes awry, the operatives of the shadowy Section 20 (“Officially, we don’t exist,” one says) attempt to recruit the one American who can identify the terrorist ringleader. They need Damien Scott (Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton), an ex-Delta Force member who was dishonorably discharged under mysterious circumstances. Scott is busy bedding and brawling his life away but is pressed into service by the stolid, solid Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester, “Crusoe”). Do you smell bromance?

Their hunt takes them to a hotel in Delhi, India, but they become the prey when terrorists shoot up the lobby and take everyone prisoner. Scott and Stonebridge try to save themselves and the rapidly dwindling population of civilians while discovering the bad guys’ motives.

The approximately 50-minute premiere is bloody and predictable. In addition to the violence, Cinemax maintains its reputation as the “skin-off” channel with plenty of gratuitous male and female nudity.

This is actually “Strike’s” second season. The first, based on the Chris Ryan novel, aired in the United Kingdom last year and starred Richard Armitage (“MI-5”) as operative John Porter. Armitage makes a tense cameo tonight.

In typical “24” fashion, no one can be trusted and double-crosses ensue. In the first two episodes, there are numerous folks skulking around the hotel with rifles and much script-convenient stupidity. Would any terrorist let a known agent who killed several of his associates help a little girl into a bathroom?

The script’s politics come into focus next week. Pakistani intelligence forces are derided. Scott and Stonebridge learn those alleged weapons of mass destruction the CIA feared were in Iraq actually do exist but were waylaid.

Stapleton appears to have learned everything he knows about acting from the first “Die Hard” and will have a great career as a Bruce Willis impersonator after this season wraps.

Like a lot of British TV, the show can be resoundingly bleak. The body count is high, and next week, the agents’ messy personal lives come to the fore. Will it be enough to capture your attention?

This is dumb, not-so-much fun shoot’em-ups.
-— mark.perigard@bostonherald.com
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:25 pm

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117945799

Posted: Thu., Aug. 11, 2011, 8:41pm PT
Strike Back
(Series -- Cinemax, Fri. Aug. 12, 10 p.m.)
By Brian Lowry
'Strike Back'

Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in "Strike Back"
Filmed in South Africa and Hungary by Left Bank Pictures. Executive producers, Andy Harries, Elaine Pyke; co-executive producers, Frank Spotnitz, Dan Percival; producers, Michael Casey, Trevor Hopkins; director, Percival; writer, Spotnitz, based on the book by Chris Ryan.
Damien Scott - Sullivan Stapleton
Sgt. Michael Stonebridge - Philip Winchester
Col. Eleanor Grant - Amanda Mealing
Capt. Kate Marshall - Eve Birthistle
Maj. Oliver Sinclair - Rhashan Stone
Maj. Ashkani - Jimi Mistry
Strip away the counterterrorism lingo and this is really just a mismatched buddy copshow, with a square-jawed Brit ("Crusoe's" Philip Winchester) thrown together with a skirt-chasing Yank special forces officer (Sullivan Stapleton), who was dishonorably discharged for reasons unknown.

Winchester's Sgt. Michael Stonebridge belongs to Section 20, a unit devoted to finding "high-risk priority targets" that officially doesn't exist. With a peer kidnapped by terrorists and a major if unspecified threat looming, Stonebridge seeks out Damien Scott (Stapleton), whom he finds cage fighting in Kuala Lumpur and, conveniently, living over a whorehouse. (The gratuitous nudity quotient drops sharply once the plot fully kicks in, though Scott does manage to take down a couple of terrorists buck naked, a la "Eastern Promises.")

The project was actually adapted from a book (summer beach reading, no doubt), with "X-Files" alum Frank Spotnitz scripting the first two previewed episodes, and Dan Percival directing.

The plots are timely -- including an international hotel attack and hostage standoff -- but the espionage comes across as a thinly veiled excuse to go globe-trotting through the slimy back streets where terrorists huddle.

As for Section 20, it's about as by-rote an operation as shadowy counterterrorism units get -- "24" or "Mission: Impossible," if Jack Bauer (or Mr. Phelps) could find time in the day for the occasional sweaty romp with a hooker.

"Strike Back" does incorporate a few wrinkles regarding its leads, with hints of a larger plot to guide its 10 episodes. Mostly, though, pretty much everyone is reduced to geopolitical stereotypes -- starting with the American cowboy and more cautious (if equally sweaty and buff) Brit.

The main problem, given Cinemax's profile, is logistical: Guys drawn to such fare are often loath to commit to series, as opposed to whatever latenight sex, nudity and violence they happily stumble across. The good news is if "Strike Back" does any business at all, Cinemax can declare victory, and if the show lands with a dull thud, it'll be easy enough for the channel to make like Section 20 and simply pretend it doesn't exist.

Camera, Steve Lawes; production designer, Jonathan Lee; editor, Adam Trotman; music, Ilan Eshkeri, Scott Shields; casting, Gary Davy. 60 MIN.
With: Richard Armitage.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:26 pm

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/firing_back_gK5S5cNlfDD0t7olBQ31mM

Firing 'Back'
When these guys take on terrorists, feel bad for the terrorist

Last Updated: 4:01 PM, August 12, 2011

Posted: 11:25 PM, August 11, 2011

TV Critic

"Strike Back" Tonight at 10 on Cinemax
* * *

Not for the faint of heart, the weak of stomach or the connoisseur of art, Cinemax's original series, "Strike Back," is, however, perfect for several people I know: the love interest and his friends.

A few weekends back, these guys, armed with my screeners, secluded themselves indoors and watched four straight hours of "Strike Back," coming up only long enough to grab more food and yell, "They're really kicking ass down there!" Clearly, they weren't fighting off terrorists in the basement with nachos, but they were so worked up, it almost seemed like it.

For once, however, these men of no taste were right. There is nothing really new here -- disgraced, ex-Delta Force, hard-drinking, whore-loving bad boy is enlisted by (yes, this again) an elite British group of terrorist-catchers called "Section 20." He must work hand-in-hand with a straight, by-the-book agent whose mindset is as square as his jaw. Or maybe not.

But that doesn't mean the series doesn't work. It's no "MI-5," but since Cinemax went to the Brits to make the show, it's as good as you will get from secret agent/terrorist-hunter shows.

On tonight's premiere, we meet the two main guys. One, a bad boy American, Damien Scott (played by Aussie Sullivan Stapleton), is in a whore house in Kuala Lumpur, while straight-shooter Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) is hard at work for Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) somewhere in London.

One of "Section 20's" best men, John Porter, is being held by terrorists in Pakistan and, unlike what you'd expect, the good guys botch the job, and he gets a bullet to the head -- on camera. Only the bad boy -- who knew and had worked with the dead special forces agent -- can help find the operative that Porter was in the midst of turning when he was captured.

Stonebridge is sent to Kuala Lumpur, where he finds Scott in the middle of a bare-knuckle fighting ring, getting his nose bashed in.

Will Scott do it? Will he give up a life of whoring, drinking, fighting and whatever the hell else he does that everyman wishes he could do to fight terrorists? No -- but he will take the job fighting terrorists.

With stories ripped from the headlines (tonight's is taken from the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008), and a crew of special forces agents serving as consultants, no matter how far-fetched the stories seem, most of them, I'm told, are based on fact.

Because it's Brit-produced, don't expect your favorites to last long, as the British have no problem killing off even the biggest, most-beloved characters. Good action, good characters and, besides, it's the only show in the history of TV where the term, "f-cking pr-ck" is code. I mean, you gotta love that, no?
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:27 pm

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/arts-entertainment/tv-review-strike-back-60288.html

TV Review: 'Strike Back'
By Joe Bendal Created: Aug 11, 2011 Last Updated: Aug 12, 2011

STRIKE BACK: (L-R) Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester from "Strike Back." (Liam Daniel/Cinemax )

Delta Force soldier Damien Scott finds that he fits in rather well in the double-secret British counter-terrorism unit in Strike Back, which has its series debut on Cinemax.

Like “24” in its Surnow heyday, viewers should not get too attached to recurring characters, including John Porter (a lead protagonist from the pre-Cinemax first season on British Sky TV). Captured while investigating a large-scale operation code-named Project Dawn, Porter has been captured by terrorists loyal to the Islamist mastermind Latif.

Aside from Porter, only his former American counterpart from the early days of Iraq can identify the mysterious Latif. That of course would be Scott.

Naturally, there is major friction between the Yank and the Brit, but they are all business when the bullets start flying. If the first four installments are representative of the entire season, the wider overarching storyline will be advanced by a succession of two-episode mini-arcs.

On the micro level, the show is a breath of fresh air. For instance, Scott spends the balance of episode 2 protecting an innocent young girl from Islamic terrorists (who are explicitly identified as such).

However, on the macro level, the shadowy metaconspiracy threatens to be a real buzz kill. Supposedly, Scott was unceremoniously mustered out of service because he caught wind of a plan to plant the WMD stockpiles that would “justify” Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those infamous weapons are now at loose ends, doggedly pursued by Latif for his nefarious purposes.

This sort of potential demonization of the American military and intelligence services is exactly what we do not need any more of on television.

It would be a shame if the macro themes continue in this direction, because they could spoil some genuinely rip-rousing television entertainment. As Scott, Sullivan Stapleton is an undeniably likable and engaging hard-nosed, bad-attitude protagonist. Though the relatively by-the-book Stonebridge is probably not as fun to play, Philip Winchester displays plenty of square-jawed action credibility.

There are also plenty of “James Bond” worthy women, like the gorgeous Karen David (sort of geek-famous for Scorpion King 2) as the barmaid Scott protects when the terrorists break up their hookup. Likewise, the villains are truly villainous, such as the workaholic Liam Cunningham, chewing the scenery with relish as IRA enforcer turned mercenary Daniel Connolly.

Strike Back
Director: Various
Cast: Michelle Lukes, Amanda Mealing, Sullivan Stapleton
Running Time: 360 minutes (6 episodes)
Rating: Not Rated
At least in episodes 1 through 4, the Indian and South African settings are quite cinematic, while the stunt work and effects are all first class. Scott and Stonebridge deliver quite a bit of vicarious satisfaction, administering on-the-spot justice to Islamist fanatics and their craven accomplices that should be well worth returning for throughout the show’s run.

Yet, if it loses sight of who the real bad guys are, sliding into the sort of moral equivalency frequently peddled by Hollywood, it will alienate its core viewership, while those sharing such a hostile view of American and British military and intelligence personnel will be put off by the Jack Bauer tactics gleefully indulged in throughout each episode.

Strike Back could be flat-out awesome, so let’s hope it minimizes the clichéd conspiracy themes and plays to its strengths. This week, the totally entertaining first episode is definitely recommended when it debuts today on Cinemax.

Rating: 3.5 / 5
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:35 pm

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/12/entertainment/la-et-strike-back-20110812

Television review: 'Strike Back'
Cinemax's new special ops drama shoots high with plenty of action and thrills and a simmering bromance that's fun to watch.

Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester star in "Strike Back." (Liam Daniel / Cinemax)
August 12, 2011|By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic

Those jonesing for "24" may find some comfort in Cinemax's new foray into original content, a hostage-taking, bullets-flying, explosion-rattled special ops drama called "Strike Back." The continuation of a British show based on a novel by the same name, "Strike Back" revolves around the classified missions of Section 20, one of those elite bands of superheroes who can hack into any security system, outshoot any paramilitary mercenary, out-talk any rogue cell member and take down a phalanx of machine gun-toting terrorists while only armed with the hotel bath towel that had previously been wrapped around their waist.

Like "24," "Strike Back" is post-9/11 television, with the Brits standing for American problem solvers, and a Rick Steves-does-Black Ops travel itinerary — it's Tuesday, so it must be New Delhi. The body count is high, the action relentless and all the Section 20 members shout "copy that" into their ear phones so often a viewer will be excused from wondering when Chloe is going to parachute in and offer a much needed tutorial on how to track a paneled van through really bad traffic.

But it's more methadone than madness; where "24" was the archetypal tale of the lone gunslinger operating within the grim realities of newly revamped military protocol (i.e., torture), "Strike Back" is, at its heart, a buddy movie, a simmering life-or-death bromance between its two male leads: the upright and gorgeously clenched Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), who is British, and the morally cavalier Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), who is American.

Evoking a tradition begun by Elizabeth Bennet and her Mr. Darcy, the two meet in a situation of mutual distaste — Stonebridge is sent to drag Scott from the brothels of Kuala Lumpur (Cinemax is owned by HBO, so there must be a brothel scene) because Scott is the only man living who can identify the Pakistani terrorist known as Latif.

Latif has kidnapped John Porter (Richard Armitage) — who was the star of the first season of "Strike Back," which appeared on Sky TV in the U.K. — and Section 20, now headed by Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) wants him back. Stonebridge, nostrils flaring with distaste, has his doubts but while extricating Scott, fisticuffs with local thugs ensue, and love, in the form of tough-guy admiration, takes root.

The creators — the first four episodes are written by "The X-Files'" Frank Spotnitz — have mild political ambitions. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are mentioned early and often, as are the mythic weapons of mass destruction playing MacGuffin for the series' über narrative. Meanwhile, the second episode involves the takeover of a hotel that echoes (and references) the 2008 tragedy in Mumbai, explores the tensions between India and Pakistan and the dangers of launching missions on foreign soil.

Still "Strike Back" is unapologetically genre, international politics as window dressing for a sensational, albeit shallow, shoot 'em up with modern Butch and Sundance eye candy. Treachery and sex complicate things, evil lurks and last-minute goodness blooms, but no one seems terribly disturbed, much less haunted, by the ruthlessness of international politics or the daily violence that surrounds them. Scott and Stonebridge each have their alpha male odd-couple moments, but they are mostly too busy checking weapons to do any soul searching.

As directed by Dan Percival (one and two) and Bill Eagles (three and four), "Strike Back" unfolds quickly and confidently with brilliantly choreographed fight sequences and the exotic locales. But nothing trumps the friendship of the two male leads. Clear of eye and strong of jaw, Winchester is Prince Charming handsome and Stapleton manages to make Scott appear sloppy and dissolute despite the rock-hard abs, the impressive (and oft naked) glutes.

They each deliver their requisite smart aleck one-liners with the same muscular ease with which they handle automatic weaponry and women's bodies, the cinematic love children of James Bond and Rambo. Stirred, perhaps, but never shaken.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:36 pm

http://tv.nytimes.com/2011/08/12/arts/television/strike-back-on-cinemax-anti-terrorism-drama-review.html

Strike Back
Liam Daniel/HBO

Strike Back, with Sullivan Stapleton, left, and Philip Winchester, has its debut Friday on Cinemax.
In Between the Terrorist Threats, Plenty of Time for Hanky-Panky
By MIKE HALE
Published: August 11, 2011

Cinemax — the network and the punch line — has always had a businesslike approach to original programming. Sex-businesslike, that is. “The Best Sex Ever,” “Sex Games Cancun,” “Zane’s Sex Chronicles”: its late-night offerings have made it the soft-core cathouse of premium cable.

Overview
New York Times Review
August 11, 2011

The latest on the arts, coverage of live events, critical reviews, multimedia extravaganzas and much more. Join the discussion.

Mr. Winchester and Amanda Mealing in the series, which follows a fictional counterterrorism unit called Section 20.

Now Cinemax has decided to join the prime-time drama game played so successfully by its parent, HBO, as well as other pay-cable networks like Showtime and Starz. In a bid to expand its young-male audience, it’s taking what it knows best (which would be sex) and adding a traditional complement, violence.

“Strike Back,” beginning Friday night, is a British variation on “24” that offers reasonably competent action scenes, depressingly casual depictions of torture and death, and a comic-book conspiracy story line while also being an efficient nudity delivery system. It’s the kind of show in which an agent doesn’t realize there are terrorists in the hotel lobby because he’s upstairs having it off with the waitress he met 10 minutes ago.

We’re in B-movie international-thriller territory, where people say things like “You still don’t get it, do you?” and “We lost a good man that night,” and where a joltingly bloody shootout in Pakistan is followed by a long scene of comic relief in a Malaysian brothel. (The first four episodes were written by Frank Spotnitz of “X-Files” fame, the primary American contributor to this Cinemax-British Sky Broadcasting collaboration.)

“Strike Back” won’t make anyone forget “24” or “MI-5” or even “The Unit,” but it has its pleasures for the aficionado of guns and flesh in exotic locales. If you’re tired of getting your pay-cable nudity fix in Roman or Arthurian or Westerian garb, you could do worse. There’s something satisfying in the combination of crisp British detachment and Cinemax lasciviousness.

The show is about the adventures of a fictional counterterrorism unit called Section 20: sweaty operatives in the field directed from one of those cool-blue, all-seeing fantasy war rooms half a world away in London. It centers on the budding bromance between the two main action heroes, an all-business Brit (Philip Winchester of NBC’s “Crusoe”) and, with the American market in mind, a wisecracking, seemingly mercenary but eventually idealistic Yank (Sullivan Stapleton, the crazed brother in the Australian film “Animal Kingdom”).

The actors give these gun-toting clichés a little personality and a credible rapport, and South Africa and Hungary stand in prettily for various international hot spots. Story arcs — terrorists in Delhi, terrorists in Cape Town — stretch over several episodes, tied into a continuing paranoid-conspiracy mystery involving whether there were really weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The action moves quickly enough that the constant credibility gaps are minor annoyances; when the Indian army officer and the Pakistani intelligence agent agree to work together, it seems perfectly natural.

“Strike Back” is the first of a set of new action series for Cinemax; the next, based on the “Transporter” movies, is currently filming. Starz’s movie-centric sister channel, Encore, has also ventured into original programming with the recent “Moby Dick” mini-series, starring William Hurt. That leaves just Showtime’s secondary network, the Movie Channel. Where is its homegrown drama? Maybe something that, like “Strike Back,” embraces its network’s historical values. “Joe Bob’s Walking Dead” has a nice ring to it.

STRIKE BACK

Cinemax, Friday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.

A Cinemax presentation in association with British Sky Broadcasting Limited. Produced by Left Bank Pictures. Andy Harries, executive producer for Left Bank; Elaine Pyke, executive producer for Sky; Dan Percival and Frank Spotnitz, co-executive producers; Michael Casey, series producer; Trevor Hopkins and Sue De Beauvoir, producers; Bill Shepard, co-producer.

WITH: Sullivan Stapleton (Damien Scott) , Philip Winchester (Sgt. Michael Stonebridge), Amanda Mealing (Col. Eleanor Grant), Eva Birthistle (Capt. Kate Marshall), Rhashan Stone (Maj. Oliver Sinclair), Jim Mistry (Major Ashkani) and Richard Armitage (John Porter).
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:55 pm

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/TV_Reviews_21/-Strike-Back-and-throw-everything-at-it-.asp

'Strike Back,'
and throw everything at it

This Cinemax UK import leaves nothing out of the pot

By Tom Conroy
Aug 11, 2011

In another sign of our country’s possible decline, more and more classic American hero roles have recently been cast with foreign actors, including Batman (Christian Bale), Superman (Henry Cavill) and Spider-Man (the British-raised Andrew Garfield).

So we shouldn’t be surprised that when the British series “Strike Back” needed to add a gun-slinging, rule-breaking, lady-killing American commando to its team of spies, it went with an Australian actor, Sullivan Stapleton.

But it’s perhaps an even greater sign of American decline that Cinemax felt the need to import the series, which is just the kind of overheated but implausible action TV that the U.S. has always specialized in.

But whereas shows like “Mission: Impossible” and “24” always maintained a consistency of tone that let us know exactly how seriously to take the action, “Strike Back” throws in too many disparate elements — political intrigue, high-tech wizardry, grim violence, gratuitous sex and jokey dialogue.

When the suspense builds, we’re suddenly distracted by a nude body. When a real political issue emerges, it’s followed by an elaborate action sequence that reminds us we’re just watching a standard shoot-’em-up. Though the show is almost always entertaining, it adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

Airing this Friday, August 12, at 10 p.m., the series’ premiere on Cinemax, which is actually the first episode of the series’ second season, introduces us to the men and women of Section 20, a top-secret branch of British military intelligence. They’re currently trying to free their colleague Sgt. John Porter (Richard Armitage), who was the main character of the show’s first season.

Porter is being held hostage by a radical Islamic terrorist named Latif, who is planning a potentially devastating attack that has something to do with the weapons of mass destruction that weren’t found in Iraq. So the head of Section 20, Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) sends one of her top agents, Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) to find a dishonorably discharged American commando named Damian Scott (Stapleton), who previously worked with Porter and has once seen Latif.

Like most dishonorably discharged ex-commandos, Scott is now making a living by fighting in illegal no-holds-barred matches in a rundown part of a city in the Far East, where he’s in trouble with a local crime lord.

Though Stapleton handles Scott’s accent and swagger capably, the character drags us into James Bond territory, if Bond movies were made for pay cable and not for PG-13 theater distribution. In the four episodes made available for review, Scott is seen having photogenic sex with three different women, two of whom he’s barely met. The action, however, is not as explicit or drawn out as that on the scripted series for which Cinemax has until now been best known.

Scott believes that he was set up and discharged from the U.S. military because he was getting too close to the truth about the WMDs in Iraq. This plot thread suggests that like most seasons of “24,” this season of “Strike Back” will wind up with the heroes confronting one or more wealthy, well-connected white men in suits.

A further clue that the show is heading for conspiracy-theory land is that one of the writers is Frank Spotnitz, who has been credited with creating much of the elaborate “mythology” on “The X Files.”

Most of the individual episodes have satisfying beginnings, middles and ends, unlike many series with season-long story arcs. One episode, however, ends with a cliffhanger that will have viewers crying foul a week later.

The action and suspense are skillfully handled, but the characterization is weak. Stonebridge is a cipher with a secret. Scott seems downright goofy at times, but at one point we suddenly learn that he has a photographic memory.

His interaction with one villain’s henchwoman, an exhibitionistic, sex-crazed nihilist who once worked as a professional masseuse, is ridiculous.

It may be that the British accents, which usually signal quality to American viewers, trick us into expecting depth and nuance when the show is merely intended to entertain us with guns, explosions, a little sex, hissable villains and likable heroes. Viewers looking for nothing more than the latter elements will be amply rewarded.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:55 pm

http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/08/10/stinson-strike-back-is-loud-brash-mindless/

Stinson: Strike back is loud, brash & mindless

HBO Canada

Boy howdy, is it violent! HBO Canada's Strike Back

Scott Stinson Aug 10, 2011 – 3:23 PM ET

Do you miss Jack Bauer? Do you find yourself longing for the type of show in which the hero overcomes impossible odds to defeat terrorists with his smarts, his remarkable pain threshold, his uncanny shooting ability and his impressive bladder control?

Yes? Then it’s happy news time. You now have Strike Back to sate your craving. Or, to use an analogy a bit more apt to the genre, you have Strike Back to salve your sucking chest wound.

Strike Back is the new things-go-boom counterterrorism serial that is U.S. cable channel Cinemax’s first crack at an original series. It will air on HBO Canada in this country. The distinction in pedigree is significant: Where HBO often produces dramas that are moody, complex and understated (Treme and Boardwalk Empire, to pick a couple of recent examples), it’s fair to say that Cinemax had less lofty ambitions for its maiden scripted drama. Strike Back is loud, brash and rather mindless, like a mass-market novel. Which makes sense, since it’s based on one. It’s a show that doesn’t just dabble in action-film clichés, it revels in them. And, it may well be a hit because of them. Lots of people enjoy loud action films. This is like 10 episodes of one. To wit:

Boy howdy, is it violent Five minutes in, and the producers might as well have just waved a flag that said “This Isn’t a Broadcast Network! We Can Do Things!” One man is shot through the head, and another takes a bullet to the throat. In each case, the camera lingers on the bloody aftermath. Nothing says We’re On Cable like a burbling, spurting gunshot wound.

Trust no one Jack Bauer himself learned pretty quick that there was always a traitor in the room, whether he was in his own home or the offices of the mole-infested Counter-Terrorism Unit. So it is for the noble heroes of the super-secret Section 20, an elite British military unit that despite its secrecy and impressiveness has a hell of a time keeping undesirables from sneaking on board. Section 20 could use an HR department that knows a thing or two about background checks, is what I’m saying.

Aaron Sorkin it ain’t The guns and bombs of Strike Back are not offset by much in the way of clever dialogue. There are the requisite action-hero one-liners — Hollywood demands that good guys crack wise after disposing of an enemy — but much of the patter is wince-inducing. To be fair, this remains true to the source material. Strike Back was written by Chris Ryan, a former SAS commander who won honours in the first Gulf War. Ryan knows weapons and tactics, but his characters speak lines like this: “Your budget’s getting chopped in the next spending review, along with your balls.” Who talks like that? (Also, having never criticized a special forces soldier in print before, I would like to add that Mr. Ryan is undoubtedly a stand-up fellow and handsome guy who could probably kill me with his bare hands.)

The usual suspects The main enemies of Strike Back are Islamist extremists of the al-Qaeda sort, meaning there are uncomfortable scenes in which the terrorists decide against killing Muslim hostages in favour of murdering those who do not share their faith. But lest it be accused of being overtly anti-Muslim, there’s also a scene in which one of those hostages indicts (figuratively) the terrorists for violating the Muslim faith by spreading bloodshed in its name. And by Episode 3 there are some IRA types mixed into the action. It’s practically old-timey terrorism.

Booty calls A few weeks back HBO was taken to task by a Los Angeles critic for the amount of female nudity in shows like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones. It led to an interesting debate on the role of nudity in television, with others arguing that it is fine as long as it is important to the story, a term wryly coined “sexposition.” Strike Back doesn’t worry about such things. People get naked. Or at least women do, which is perhaps why one British critic referred to the series as a “pathetic male fantasy.” (Side note: Season 1 of Strike Back was produced by BSkyB and aired in the United Kingdom last year; the version that premieres here is actually Season 2 of that series, with Cinemax on board as co-producer.)

Another thing about fantasies The two protagonists of the series are Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), a British member of Section 20, and Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a former Delta Force soldier who is needed for a mission. Of course, Scott’s being ex-Delta Force requires that (a) he was wrongly accused of something and is living a hardscrabble life and (b) he has a way with the ladies. In the premiere, he clumsily hits on a hotel waitress who appears to blow him off but ends up coming up to his room, marching in, and disrobing. Does this actually happen to people who are not rock stars? I’d bet even the rock stars have to put a little more effort in.

Strike Back premieres on Aug. 13 at 10 p.m. on HBO Canada.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:01 pm

http://www.multichannel.com/article/472088-Review_Cinemax_s_Strike_Back_.php

Review: Cinemax's 'Strike Back'
(Cinemax, Friday, Aug. 12, 10 p.m. )
By R. Thomas Umstead -- Multichannel News, 8/8/2011 12:01:00 AM
Strike Back, Cinemax’s first foray into the scripted series arena, stars Sullivan Stapleton as a former U.S. Special Forces operative who teams with an elite British military unit led by Philip Winchester to try to thwart an international terrorist group.

What starts out as a run-of-the-mill, testosterone filled action show filled with cartoon heroes and villains — as well as healthy dose of violence, sex and nudity — settles in nicely about one-third of the way through the first episode .

While not on the level of 24, fans of Cinemax will love Strike Back’s fast-paced action, while the storyline should keep spy/espionage/thriller aficionados tuned in throughout the 10-part series.

Strike Back bows on Cinemax on Aug. 12 at 10 p.m.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:32 pm

http://blog.newsok.com/television/2011/08/05/strike-back-pulls-no-punches-for-action-fans/

“Strike Back” pulls no punches for action fans
Posted by Melissa Hayer
on August 5, 2011M at 3:30 pm
STRIKE BACK SULLIVAN STAPLETON

Cinemax takes a big leap into the cable drama series realm with its first primetime original scripted show “Strike Back.”

The action series begins by centering on former U.S. Special Forces operative Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) teaming up with Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), and the top-secret British military unit Section 20 Stonebridge is a member of, to combat an international terrorist group plotting an attack in New Delhi.

HBO/Cinemax has teamed with UK broadcaster Sky to produce “Strike Back.”

With the combination of co-executive producer Frank Spotnitz’ (“The X-Files”) sharp writing and the well-executed directing of Dan Percival (HBO’s “Dirty War), the first two episodes are exciting and intense.

Winchester, who has had television roles in “Camelot” and “Fringe,” is solid as Stonebridge, but Australian actor Stapleton, probably best known to U.S. fans for his performance in last year’s Australian film “Animal Kingdom,” has fantastic charisma and is completely fun to watch as Scott.

Co-stars also lending steady support include Amanda Mealing as Section 20 team leader Col. Eleanor Grant and Eva Birthistle as Capt. Kate Marshall.

Overall, this a is a compelling series and a must-see for television fans who love lots of action with their drama.

“Strike Back” premieres at 9 p.m. Aug. 12 on Cinemax.

– Melissa Hayer

mhayer@opubco.com
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:33 pm

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903454504576488101808921770.html

AUGUST 5, 2011

War, Sex and Counterterrorism

By DOROTHY RABINOWITZ
[TV REVIEW] Cinemax

Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester in 'Strike Back.'

The shadow of "24" hangs heavy over "Strike Back," an enterprise full of sound, fury and copious bloodletting. Also an undergraduate raunchiness—altogether not the sort of thing Agent Jack Bauer would have found acceptable. Still, this series, about an underground British antiterror team that has joined forces with U.S. Special Forces veteran Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), does succeed in wresting plenty of high-level suspense out of these low-aiming scripts—no small miracle.

That's especially evident in the first two episodes set in Delhi. There, the ace antiterror team Section 20 battles terrorists mounting an assault on a luxury hotel and taking hostages they kill in a bloody rampage. But the terrorists are after bigger game. The Pakistani operative behind this attack is interested in something far more lethal, involving weapons of mass destruction—a program called Project Dawn.
Strike Back

Begins Aug. 12, 10-10:45 p.m. ET on Cinemax

The story could hardly be more timely, with its tangled—and, as it turns out, well-justified—suspicions, in midbattle, about who can and cannot be trusted, and about whether Pakistani security agents are friends or agents of terror. The resulting atmosphere of menace—the deceptions at every turn—informs these first episodes with a raw power. Raw, too, because they draw heavily on the details of the 2008 Mumbai massacres. On Nov. 26 of that year, 12 terrorists trained by a Pakistan-based Jihadi organization arrived in Mumbai by boat. They then made their way easily, methodically, to the city's landmark institutions, including its two grandest hotels, killing everyone they could in each place. They also took hostages. The death toll would come to more than 200, with hundreds maimed.

The opening episodes' scenes of terrified hotel guests hunted down as the killers move from room to room—the incident of the guest whose life the killers spare because he is, like them, a Muslim—all echo the facts of that event. It is to this unforgettable history that the show's first chapters, set in India, owe their drama and coherence.

As the series rolls on to other destinations and newer battles, plot cohesiveness becomes, at best, spotty. Section 20 soon takes on a new terrorist superman and, with him, machinations of endless complexity. All begin unfolding in episode three, which takes us to South Africa—operating base of the new terrorist impressario, who is this time an ex-IRA member and a key link in the aforementioned global terror plot. With Section 20 on the job—Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), agent Scott, team leader Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) and Captain Kate Marshall (Eva Birthistle)—there's no lack of action.

There is no lack of it in the bedroom either, or substitutions therefor. You know there's trouble in the writing and creativity department when it becomes clear the furniture-shaking sex scenes that pop up early in the series are a staple of the action. The noise of these couplings is admittedly some decibels lower than the regular stretches of ear-drum-shattering gunfire and screeching cars—though not by much. But no worry: with seduction dialogue like the kind here—a kind beyond satire—a temporary hearing problem can be a blessing. Some of these encounters are, to be sure, stranger than others. See, for instance, the U.S. undercover agent and the female terrorist stop dead while racing to an urgent mission to engage in a standup. A pause that does not refresh, it turns out, or at least not for long.

Only four episodes into "Strike Back"—all that were released for review—there's no telling how the search for the master terrorist will go, but it's a good bet that Section 20 will deliver the answer. A good bet, too, that—notwithstanding the show's lurches into unintended farce—there'lll be more than enough raw-nerve action, bullets to the head and near catastrophes to keep viewers happy to the end.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:34 pm

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/drama_mama_BGrvOTqabIo6gJKLcNe7rL

* "Strike Back" (Friday, Aug. 12, 10 p.m., Cinemax) It's for fans of "24" who wished that Jack Bauer fought at least one gun battle completely naked. Cinemax's first foray into scripted drama throws plenty of blood and sex at us, but nothing new in this predictable globe-trotting spy thriller. Britain's secret Section 20 (not to be confused with Britain's secret Torchwood division) improbably teams up with an ousted US Special Forces operative (who's case file is stamped "dishonourably discharged" -- has the US military adopted British spelling?) to take down some nondescript Pakistani baddies. Apparently, this mission is too easy, as partners Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) pepper each other with snide remarks amid a hostage standoff that lasts well into Episode 2. Even disrobed, Bauer would never waste that much time to crush a dozen terrorists.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:27 pm

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/50793

What Make The Critics Of Cinemax’s Counter-Terrorism Unit Series STRIKE BACK??

Published at: Aug 12, 2011 3:19:57 PM CDT

I am – Hercules!!

A British version of “24” with nakeder Mandys, “Strike Back” comes from American writer-producer Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files,” “The Lone Gunmen,” “Robbery Homicide Division,” the 2005 version of “Night Stalker”).

I gather that Cinemax is actually airing the second season of “Strike Back.” The first, Spotnitz-free season, with future “Walking Dead” star Andrew Lincoln, hit Britain’s SkyOne about 15 months ago. (This sort of echoes what happened with “Torchwood,” which spent three seasons on the BBC before its fourth season landed on American pay-cable channel Starz.)

The New York Times says:

a British variation on “24” that offers reasonably competent action scenes, depressingly casual depictions of torture and death, and a comic-book conspiracy story line while also being an efficient nudity delivery system. It’s the kind of show in which an agent doesn’t realize there are terrorists in the hotel lobby because he’s upstairs having it off with the waitress he met 10 minutes ago. … won’t make anyone forget “24” or “MI-5” or even “The Unit,” but it has its pleasures for the aficionado of guns and flesh in exotic locales. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

Those jonesing for "24" may find some comfort in Cinemax's new foray into original content, a hostage-taking, bullets-flying, explosion-rattled special ops drama called "Strike Back." … But it's more methadone than madness; where "24" was the archetypal tale of the lone gunslinger operating within the grim realities of newly revamped military protocol (i.e., torture), "Strike Back" is, at its heart, a buddy movie, a simmering life-or-death bromance between its two male leads: the upright and gorgeously clenched Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), who is British, and the morally cavalier Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), who is American.

The Boston Herald says:

… bloody and predictable. … In typical “24” fashion, no one can be trusted and double-crosses ensue. In the first two episodes, there are numerous folks skulking around the hotel with rifles and much script-convenient stupidity. …

Variety says:

Strip away the counterterrorism lingo and this is really just a mismatched buddy copshow … Strike Back" does incorporate a few wrinkles regarding its leads, with hints of a larger plot to guide its 10 episodes. Mostly, though, pretty much everyone is reduced to geopolitical stereotypes …

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette says:

… shows off high production values and an intense, fast-paced story reminiscent of "24" or "Sleeper Cell" that occasionally dips into the ridiculous (secret codes; a running conspiracy story; Stonebridge catches a bomb in episode two). … It's too bad the show's graphic nature, especially the bloodshed, is so off-putting as to make the series unwatchable.

The Wall Street Journal says:

… does succeed in wresting plenty of high-level suspense out of these low-aiming scripts—no small miracle. … As the series rolls on to other destinations and newer battles, plot cohesiveness becomes, at best, spotty.

10 p.m. Friday. Cinemax.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:33 pm

http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Friday+espionage+series+will+ring+bell+fans/5242961/story.html

TV Friday: New espionage series will ring a bell for fans of 24


By Alex Strachan, Postmedia News August 11, 2011

Summer burn-off season continues with the debut of a new international conspiracy thriller series, Strike Back (HBO Canada, 10 p.m.), a U.K. Sky Broadcasting co-production originally commissioned for the HBO-owned movie channel Cinemax and debuting tonight in Canada for the first time.

The plot will ring a bell for anyone familiar with 24, the U.K. series Spooks, and any number of espionage knock-offs. An international terror group is plotting an attack, and the only thing standing between the baddies and peace and quiet is a charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative, who links up with a covert British tactical unit.

Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton plays the lantern-jawed He-Man tasked with saving the world as we know it. Philip Winchester, last seen in the short-lived adventure series Crusoe, plays the more by-the-book team leader who serves as the hero’s moral sounding board and father confessor. The supporting ensemble is rounded out by Amanda Mealing as a rule-breaking tough gal, and Richard Armitage – the actor, not the former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, though, given the subject matter, you could be forgiven for confusing the two – as a covert agent who manages to get himself captured and held hostage in the series opener.

Strike Back was written in part by one-time X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz and was filmed in Hungary and South Africa, filling in for England, Chechnya, Malaysia and India, so you know pretty much what to expect: a fast-paced, not overly demanding action thriller. Perfect for summer viewing, in other words, if you’re too tired to go out to the movies and look for something more substantial and meaningful, like The Whistle Blower.

Strike Back is actually the second season of a series, even though it’s being pitched to viewers as something entirely new. The first season, based on the novel by former Special Air Service commando Chris Ryan, also featured Armitage, but otherwise featured different characters and actors in a tale loosely based on real-life events in Basra, Iraq.

Whether it’s for you depends on your taste. Critics’ notices of the first season ranged from the qualified rave (“a Die Hard-style thrill around every corner!”) to the decidedly muted (“a pathetic male fantasy”). As always, the truth is likely to fall somewhere in the middle.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:35 pm

http://nicegirlstv.com/2011/08/11/strike-back-cinemax-launches-new-original-series/

STRIKE BACK: Cinemax Launches New Original Series

Posted by Melissa on August 11, 2011 in Cinemax ·

Cinemax is ramping up their original programming with the new, high octane series Strike Back, premiering Friday, August 12 at 10/9c. Inspired by the UK series of the same name, Strike Back follows a team of anti-terrorist operatives working to stop a terrorist attack.

The team that tracks the terrorists is Section 20, an elite military black ops unit within the British government that focuses on high-risk, top-priority targets. When one of their own is captured and held hostage, the group enlists the help of Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a former Delta Force operative who is familiar with the terrorists.

Although he has good instincts and skills, his cocky style is often at odds with the more formal team, especially the more by-the-book Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester). Team leader Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) is a smart, tough military leader who is skilled with a gun and diplomacy, but knows when to break a rule or two.

From the glimpses I’ve seen, this looks like a grittier version of 24 but with some buddy cop levity thrown in to keep it from getting too bleak. The addition of a female leader is welcome in the midst of all the testosterone. Watch a 6-minute preview of Strike Back, then tune in to Cinemax on Friday, August 12 at 10/9c for the full series premiere.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:40 pm

http://jbspins.blogspot.com/2011/08/blackest-ops-strike-back.html

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Blackest Ops: Strike Back

As far as Section 20 is concerned, the only good terrorist is a terrorist getting renditioned to within an inch of their lives. Well, God bless them for that. As a result, disgraced former U.S. Delta Force soldier Damien Scott finds he fits in rather well in the double-secret British counter-terrorism unit in Strike Back (promo here), which has its series debut on Cinemax this Friday.

Like 24 in its Surnow heyday, viewers should not get too attached to reoccurring characters, including John Porter (a lead protagonist from Strike Back’s pre-Cinemax first season on British Sky TV). Captured while investigating a large scale operation code-named Project Dawn, Porter has been captured by terrorists loyal to the Islamist mastermind, “Latif.” Aside from Porter, only his former American counterpart from the early days of Iraq can identify the mysterious Latif. That of course would be Scott, whom Section 20’s Sgt. Stonebridge finds drinking, whoring, and pit-fighting his way through a Southeast Asia redlight district.

Naturally, there is major friction between the Yank and the Brit, but they are all business when the bullets start flying. If the first four installments are representative of the entire season, Strike Back’s wider overarching storyline will be advanced by a succession of two episode mini-arcs. On the micro-level, the show is a breath of fresh air, featuring terrorists who are not simply misguided, but horrifically evil. For instance, Scott spends the balance of episode two protecting an innocent young girl from Islamic terrorists (who are explicitly identified as such), only taking occasional breaks to bed the beautiful women of the hotel taken hostage by the terrorist thugs. Seriously, that’s an apt description.

However, on the macro level, Strike Back’s shadowy meta-conspiracy threatens to be a real buzz kill. Supposedly, Scott was unceremoniously mustered out of service because he caught wind of a plan to plant the WMD stockpiles that would “justify” Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those infamous weapons are now at loose ends, doggedly pursued by Latif for his nefarious purposes. This sort of potential demonization of the American military and intelligence services is exactly what we do not need any more of on television.

It would be a shame if Strike Back’s macro themes continue in this direction, because they could spoil some genuinely rip-rousing television entertainment. As Scott, Sullivan Stapleton is an undeniably likable and engaging hard-nosed bad-attitude protagonist. Though the relatively by-the-book Stonebridge is probably not as fun to play, Philip Winchester displays plenty of square jawed action cred. There are also plenty of James Bond worthy women, like the gorgeous Karen David (sort of geek-famous for Scorpion King 2) as the barmaid Scott protects when the terrorists break up their hook-up. Likewise, the villains are truly villainous, such as the workaholic Liam Cunningham, chewing the scenery with relish as IRA enforcer turned mercenary Daniel Connolly.

At least in episodes one through four, the Indian and South African settings are quite cinematic, while the stunt work and effects are all first class. Scott and Stonebridge deliver quite a bit of vicarious satisfaction, administering on the spot justice to Islamist fanatics and their craven accomplices that should be well worth returning for throughout the show’s run. Yet, if it loses sight of who the real bad guys are, sliding into the sort of moral equivalency frequently peddled by Hollywood, it will alienate its core viewership, while those sharing such a hostile view of American and British military and intelligence personnel will be put off by the Jack Bauer tactics gleefully indulged in throughout each episode.

Strike Back could be flat-out awesome, so let’s hope it minimizes the clichéd conspiracy themes and plays to its strengths. This week, the totally entertaining first episode is definitely recommended when it debuts this Friday (8/12) on Cinemax.

posted by J.B. @ 5:00 AM
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:40 pm

http://eclipsemagazine.com/television/25761/

Cinemax Changes Focus with Strike Back!

Posted by Sheldon A. Wiebe on August 9, 2011 · 0 comments

in Television

Strike Back Poster

With Strike Back, HBO’s racier cable outlet steps away from its ‘Skinema’ nickname and moves into the realm of hard-edged action-adventure. The premise of new series [which premieres on Friday, August 12th at 10/9C] is as follows: when a resourceful international terrorist group plots an attack, a charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative joins forces with a stealth British military unit to stop them.

Further details – including the blurb for the series premiere, cast and production details, the official trailer and two clips follow the jump.

HIGH-OCTANE SERIES STRIKE BACK, STARRING SULLIVAN STAPLETON,
PHILIP WINCHESTER AND AMANDA MEALING, DEBUTS AUG. 12 ON CINEMAX
——–
Andy Harries and Elaine Pyke Executive Produce;
Dan Percival and Frank Spotnitz Co-Executive Produce
——–
When a resourceful international terrorist group plots an attack, a charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative joins forces with a stealth British military unit to stop them in the ten-episode action series STRIKE BACK, debuting FRIDAY, AUG. 12 (10:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT) on CINEMAX. The show marks the first time HBO/CINEMAX has worked with UK broadcaster Sky to produce an original series.

Sullivan Stapleton (“Animal Kingdom”) and Philip Winchester (“Crusoe”) star, with Amanda Mealing (“Holby City”), Eva Birthistle (“Silent Witness”), Jimi Mistry (“Blood Diamond”), Rhashan Stone (“Episodes”) and Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit”).

Executive producers are Andy Harries (HBO?s “Longford”) for Left Bank; Elaine Pyke (“The Runaway”) for Sky; co-executive producers are Dan Percival (HBO?s “Dirty War”) and Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files”). Directors for the series are Dan Percival
(HBO?s “Dirty War”), Alex Holmes (HBO?s “House of Saddam”), Bill Eagles (“Fringe”) and Paul Wilmshurst (“Law & Order: UK”). Writers are Frank Spotnitz, Richard Zadjlic (“EastEnders”), Tony Saint (“Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley”) and Simon Burke (“Persuasion”).

The timely, fast-paced series mixes suspense, action and drama, spanning the globe from India to South Africa, from England to Chechnya. Shot on location in South Africa and Hungary, STRIKE BACK began production in February and will wrap in late summer.

The team that tracks the terrorists is Section 20, an elite military black ops unit within the British government that focuses on high-risk, top-priority targets. When one of their own is captured and held hostage, the group enlists the help of Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a former Delta Force operative who is familiar with the terrorists. Although he has good instincts and skills, his cocky style is often at odds with the more formal team, especially the more by-the-book Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester). Team leader Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) is a smart, tough military leader who is skilled with a gun and diplomacy, but knows when to break a rule or two.

STRIKE BACK is a CINEMAX Presentation in association with British Sky Broadcasting Limited; a Left Bank Pictures Production; executive producers, Andy Harries for Left Bank and Elaine Pyke for Sky; co-executive producers, Dan Percival and Frank
Spotnitz; series producer, Michael Casey; producers, Trevor Hopkins and Sue De Beauvoir; co-producer Bill Shepard.

Episode #1
Debut: FRIDAY, AUG. 12 (10:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT)

After agent John Porter (Richard Armitage) is kidnapped by Pakistani terrorist Latif, the rest of his team from Section 20, an elite secretive British Military Intelligence unit, race against the clock to find him. They quickly learn that only Porter and one other man, former U.S. Delta Force operative Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), can identify Latif. Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), tasked with finding Scott, tracks him to an underground fight ring in Kuala Lumpur. Scott agrees to help Section 20 and decodes a hidden message from one of Porter?s hostage transmissions that warns of a terror attack at a hotel in India and a plot known as Project Dawn, which the unit has been tracking for some time.

Led by Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing), senior team members Capt. Kate Marshall (Eva Birthistle) and Maj. Oliver Sinclair (Rhashan Stone), Section 20 sets up a covert surveillance operation in New Delhi and are aided by Pakistani Intelligence Officer Major Ashkani (Jimi Mistry). Their intelligence proves correct when terrorists seize the hotel with hostages, including Scott and Stonebridge, trapped inside.

Written by Frank Spotnitz; directed by Dan Percival.

Photo and clips courtesy of HBO/Cinemax
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Ep. 1 reviews   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:43 pm

http://ruebensramblings.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/new-show-introduction-strike-back/

New Show Introduction: Strike Back

August 9, 2011 by Rueben

The new Cinemax series Strike Back will debut on August 12 at 10 PM. The series is inspired by the U.K. Sky series Strike Back (that starred Richard Armitage), which in turn was based on the Chris Ryan book of the same name.

In this version the mission is lead by Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton from the Australian show Neighbours), a charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative who teams up with a British military unit led by Section 20 Officer Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester from Fringe) to stop an international terrorist group.

There will be 10 episodes of this action series from writers Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) and Richard Zadjlic (Eastenders)

You can see a video of Strike Back here.
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