Release date: November 14th 2011
Certificate (UK): 18
Running time: 442 minutes
Directors: Bill Eagles, Alex Holmes, Daniel Percival, Paul Wilmhurst
Writers: Simon Burke, Tony Saint, Frank Spotnitz, Richard Zajdlic
Cast: Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton, Richard Armitage, Amanda Mealing, Rhashan Stone, Michelle Lukes, Eva Birthistle, Jimi Mistry, Alexandra Moen, Iain Glen
With so much going on in the world of secret intelligence, counter-terrorism and international military operations that we get to hear so little about in the media but so much of in the entertainment industry, I was keen to see what Strike Back: Project Dawn would offer.
Season 1 focused on John Porter (Richard Armitage), a former SAS Sergeant who’s brought in to work for Section 20 in the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). As the series evolved we learnt much about the lengths some of those in Section 20 would go to make sure their secrets are kept.
The stories were engaging, action-packed and as with his role on Spooks, Armitage showed a lot of promise for someone who could potentially take on the role of Bond.
With Season 2, it’s a complete change of pace and this has a lot to do with a complete change in cast and characters. While Porter is in the cast credits, his appearance is fleeting and the impact his presence had on the show is apparent as soon as he’s no longer in it.
Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) is a former United States Delta Force operative who received a dishonourable discharge but he’s now recruited to work for Section 20. Colonel Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) is the new head of the department and she’s tasked with finding out who betrayed Porter and tracking down a Pakistani terrorist, known only as Latif. Based on their intelligence they know Latif is planning an attack code named ‘Project Dawn’.
Scott and Sergeant Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) are partnered up on a series of missions starting with finding out what happened to Porter. As the episodes progress we see them tracking Latif but also unravelling what seems to be a conspiracy surrounding the staging and subsequent theft of WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in Iraq which would have given the inspectors proof and justification for going to war.
The main story is an intriguing one with implications of a conspiracy deep within MI6 but the execution of it felt as if it missed its mark entirely.
There are some interesting characters such as Grant and Latif but we don’t get to spend much time with them because a lot of the focus remains on Scott, a foul mouthed nymphomaniac needing to have sex at least twice in each episode and rarely with the same woman. It became distracting, embarrassing and these scenes never helped to advance to the main story.
The movement the story was another problem with the show. We learn very early on about the existence of Project Dawn but then it’s put aside for 8 episodes before finally coming back to it with the season closer. By this time it felt like what could have been a great story had been squandered in favour of showcasing random nudity and sex.
Furthermore, Scott and Stonebridge seemed to be most inapt pair to lead missions as they blow their cover on several occasions, endangering others. The action however does not disappoint; there are a lot of scenes with hand-to-hand combat and explosions. The use of locations such as South Africa and Hungary which also doubled as Mozambique and New Delhi added the feeling of constantly being on the move, even if the main story wasn’t.
Comparisons have been made with other shows like 24, Spooks and Sleeper Cell but for its detracting plot and lack of engaging characters, Strike Back: Project Dawn couldn’t be further from them.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .