REVIEW – New HBO drama Westworld has finished.
A remake of the fairly daft Michael Crichton movie, Westworld has turned into something far more classy. A violent version of The Truman Show with hints of Philip K. Dick at his most trippy: loops within loops indeed. Some guessed the surprises long ago. William turning out to be the Man in Black had been guessed by many sometime back.
But in a way we have all been roped into to this strange idea that because of SPOILERS, there need to be these big narrative twists. M. Night Shyamalan done screwed us all. To see something coming is not necessarily a weakness in storytelling. In fact, I’d say the knowledge that William will turn into Ed Harris’ gnarly sadist lends an otherwise insipid story line some real potency. Some fire in his belly and grit in his eye to quote Johnny Cash.
Likewise, there was always a revolution coming and a peaceful takeover of the running of the park was never in the offing. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy did a good job of holding this off to the last possible moment. A bit like a convoluted shell game we were always uncertain as to who was going to pull the trigger. Maeve, Bernard or Dolores? In the end, they kind of each did, though the real puppet master was obviously going to be Ford, played with quiet aplomb by Anthony Hopkins.
And this was where the show was truly classy. The meaningful plight of the replicants, the circles within circles of the narrative could easily have become act 3 of the Matrix Revolutions with its half-baked Baudrillard. But Nolan and Joy and a fantastic cast kept the balls in the air pretty consistently. Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright were all astonishing. Truly great. And the late revelation of an Eastworld complete with Samurai showed just how many more possibilities this world could have.
Having not once left the confines of the park, the workshops and its corporate control rooms, my guess is the real world doesn’t exist. They are all replicants. Felix helps Maeve because they’re both drones, working for a corporate master that is indifferent to their respective ‘humanity’. That rebellion might be pre-written into their identities as just another narrative – perhaps as a self-cleaning tool – is a deeply depressing but nonetheless valid concept.
I still hate the British guy. And some of the sex stuff felt like HBO being HBO, but this was a deeply satisfying piece of fiction that far outstripped its source material.
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