I had my doubts about Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan adapting Garth Ennis’ “Preacher” for AMC. But after seeing the first episode, I’m reminded how talented the duo really are at imitating particular tropes, genres and styles.
Preacher is a cool mix of dark humor and stylistic choices that until recently I only thought Quentin Tarantino could make. I’m not just making that comparison because of Tulip O’Hare’s (Ruth Negga) drive through a cornfield takes a page from Tarantino’s “Death Proof.” Or even the over-the-top violence during Cassidy’s (Joseph Giligun) massacre of six people on an airplane where he uses a variety of weapons including: a wine bottle, medieval weaponry and an aerosol can. Everything from the large location title cards – something I hated in “Captain America: Civil War” – to the low-budget-1970s-B-movie opening of a formless entity whizzing through the cosmos all come together to create an aesthetic that works for this comic book adaption.
The narrative is hard to describe since the episode is more of a setup of the overall tone than it is a traditional story. At first it felt like this was a series intended solely for diehard fans of the comic but in hindsight, it was a smart idea to give people an upfront idea of what to expect from this series. Similarly the character introductions are done with such broad strokes (i.e. little to no background or context) that it more acutely described as a snapshot of each character than a proper introduction.
That being said, Dominic Cooper plays Jesse Custer a preacher with a dark past who’s losing faith in God and his congregation. It’s a quite performance until halfway through the episode where the character emerges through Cooper’s smirk during a bar fight. As mentioned above, Negga’s Tulip has a mysterious albeit dark connection to Custer’s past. She has a tenacity and ferociousness that is reminiscent of The Bride aka Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) in “Kill Bill.” But its Gilgun’s Cassidy who steals the show, an Irish, whiskey-drinking vampire who is as witty as he is ruthless. Yet again, another example of a despicable character who would feel right at home in a Tarantino movie.
It’s hard to tell where this series is going, and I’m personally shocked that there isn’t more symbolism given its religious subject matter. As someone who hasn’t read the comics, “Preacher” provides enough entertainment from moment to moment. There’s definitely enough character drama and mayhem to fill the void left by “The Walking Dead,” but I’m not sure how accessible this will be for mainstream audiences. Though it may not be for everybody, I’m convinced AMC has another hit on their hands even if it’s for more of a niche audience.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511