Friday, 3 December 2010

'HUMAN TARGET' 2.3 – "Taking Ames"

Friday, 3 December 2010

This third episode turned the spotlight on new recruit Ames (Janet Montgomery), the sexy thief who joined the team in the premiere; a somewhat flaky addition, designed to add estrogen to the show alongside billionairess Ilsa (Indira Varma). "Taking Ames" saw her character drawn into a diamond heist to help childhood friend Brody (J.D Pardo) pocket a seven-figure sum, only to sense that their African client Mr Markus (Hakeen Kae-Kazim) has no intention of letting them live when the job's done. Ames therefore requested Chance's help, resulting in him going undercover as part of Markus's assembled gang (posing as "Mr Chicago" the torturer/cleaner), and sabotaging the heist from the inside.

Chance: Look at this place,
Guerrero: Yeah, looks a bit different than it used to.
Chance: Worse?
Guerrero: Too early to tell.
I agree with Guerrero. It's too early to tell if Human Target's revamp by Chuck producer Matt Miller has worked or not, but "Taking Ames" was a decent episode of this fledgling season, mainly because the story was simple, tight and sprightly. However, in its intention to flesh out Ames's character, it failed. We still don't really understand much about her motivation for stealing or her history, beyond the cliché we started the year with -- that she's plied her gift as a thief all her life, but has now decided to go legit, like Chance and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley). Ames's relationship with Brody wasn't anything revelatory or special (just brotherly affection), and the episode ended with you appreciating Montgomery's presence solely for a scene where Ames had to squeeze through a narrow air-vent in her underwear, smeared with oil. No prizes for guessing this episode was written by a man. If that's the take-home audiences got about Ames (that the actress who plays her looks great in her knickers) then that's not really worth celebrating. The intention was more to show how loyal Ames is to her friends, which is fine -- but is that all we were supposed to learn?

I'm still unsure about Ilsa Pucci, who again spent most of her screen time interfering and in a tizzy about the situation unfolding with Ames and Chance. Her role as "the boss" also feels like it diminishes Chance's status on the show, and I'm becoming very worried about exactly what Winston's (Chi McBride) role is now. He's essentially Chance's "agent" and go-between with Ilsa, but once Ilsa becomes au fait with this business she's financing and in dealing with Chance, Winston might become even more redundant. Maybe if Human Target could get Winston involved with the operations more, away from a desk, it would be better, but with Guerrero and Ames around that's not so easy to achieve now. Is season 2 a case of "too many cooks..."?

Overall, "Taking Ames" was still a solid hour's entertainment that I enjoyed while it lasted, but nothing stuck with me afterwards. Chance's homespun way of restarting a dead man's heart using a fizzy drink and electrical cable was eye-opening, the episoe's two fight sequences were brutal affairs, and the pyrotechnics had a real kick to them, but all of that's a very technical appreciation. On a story and character level, there wasn't much going on here, and as a showcase for Ames, it wasn't particularly impressive -- partly because Ames herself melted into the background once Chance got involved on the heist.

  • Ames's codename "London" was probably because Janet Montgomery is British. Incidentally, is her American accent good, viewers in the USA?
  • I'm pretty sure the warehouse set used for the scene of the thieves planning their heist was the same set used throughout season 4 of Prison Break. The stairway of the museum also looked like the one used in Matrix Reloaded.
  • I'm not sure the insertion of contemporary pop songs is helping this show. Or, perhaps more accurately, the choice of music can be suspect. Far East Movement's "Like A G6" basically killed a scene at one point.
  • You may recognize actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim from 24 (where he played Colonel Dubaku in season 7), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End.
WRITER: David Simkins
DIRECTOR: Paul A. Edwards
TRANSMISSION: 1 December 2010, Fox, 9/8c