Review: ‘Agent X,’ With Sharon Stone and a Spy

8 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Body Cameras and The Death of a 6-Year-Old Boy.

In TNT’s “Agent X,” Jeff Hephner stars as a secret agent assigned to missions that involve a lot of hand-to-hand combat, international intrigue, and the occasional disguise as a room-service waiter bearing exploding snacks. The one notable thing about “Agent X,” a new spy series that’s cheap and thin even by the standards of TNT (where it begins on Sunday), is that it stars Sharon Stone in her first full-time television role. (She’s done short arcs on shows like “The Practice” and “Law & Order: SVU.”) So the first thing to be said is that she looks stiff and uncomfortable as Natalie Maccabee, the vice president of the United States, who on Inauguration Day learns that she’s the handler of a secret superagent who cleans up messes too messy for the F.B.I. or the C.I.A.Possessing some of the flavor of “National Treasure,” “Agent X” takes the amusing step of investing the Vice President’s office with secret constitutional powers, all for the purpose of concocting a Yankee version of James Bond.Golden Globe-winner Sharon Stone (“Casino”) scores the vanity slot for the TNT action drama, but she’s not the agent — she’s Vice President Natalie Maccabee, who discovers her new job comes with a secret lair — holy Bat Cave! — and a mission statement. And wonder of wonders, it mostly works, at least initially, combining a sense of playfulness with bountiful action and, less successfully, a sweeping conspiracy.

Although he’s enjoying the chance to be the lead of a new TV series, he’s just as happy about his decision to relocate to his home state a year and a half ago. “I invaded Mr. And that the series, which begins Sunday on TNT, opens the same weekend as the new James Bond movie may be coincidental, but the resemblances are not. Created and written by William Blake Herron (“The Bourne Identity”), “Agent X” follows the adventures of John Case (Jeff Hephner, “Boss”), who is Agent X, a secret charge of U.S. Jeff Daniels’ town of Chelsea and have moved here with my wife and three kids,” says Hephner during a phone interview. “I love it.” “Agent X” has its two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. Naval War College and Jim Ludes from Salve Regina University’s Pell Center; “State of the Union” (CNN at 9) features GOP presidential candidates Sen.

Stone, who’s an executive producer of the show, was unable to get much of a production budget out of TNT. “Agent X” feels undernourished in every aspect, from production design to cinematography to the staging of its action sequences to its casting: Outside of a principal cast that includes Ms. When the bad guys come into view—whether they are Russian gangsters, Chechen terrorists, Latin American drug dealers or an evil group of Washingtonians—we have permission to root against them wholeheartedly. The threats are, admittedly, fairly predictable, but Hephner brings a nice sense of cool to the role – recalling a young Kevin Costner – and in the opening two-part premiere encounters a deadly and extraordinarily limber Russian spy (Olga Fonda), which only reinforces the Bond-ian vibe.

The premise of the series is impossibly kooky, though no more so than that of a 1960s hit like “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and it’s barely more fantastic in terms of believability than 90% of other programming today, whether it’s fiction or ostensibly documentary. Series creator William Blake Herron’s credits include “The Bourne Identity,” and while “Agent X” opens on a lighter note, the show begins drifting toward a perhaps too-familiar framework – with a shadowy cabal threatening to upset the established order – in the third and fourth hours, which reflect a qualitative dip compared with the premiere.

Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Carly Fiorina; “This Is America & the World” (WETA at 10 and WHUT at 7:30 p.m.) talks to Harumi Takahashi, the governor of Hokkaido, Japan; “Meet the Press” (NBC at 10:30) has Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Jeff Hephner, formerly of “Chicago Fire,” plays John Case, the current iteration of Agent X, whose predecessors include Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War spy. She is profoundly miscast, as she strains for the gravitas and extraordinary wisdom of, say, President Bartlett from “The West Wing.” She uses her thick black fashion glasses to convey “serious person who could really be sitting in a war room,” but it only reinforces her awkwardness. That said, the action remains solid throughout, and the material is elevated by the casting, which, in addition to the fun interplay among the central trio, includes James Earl Jones as the Chief Justice and Mike Colter (fresh off “The Good Wife,” and bound for “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage”) as Speaker of the House.

As noted, “Agent X” appears somewhat conflicted internally, set in a world where threats lurk within the halls of government, and where a Mexican drug cartel can be thwarted simply by having the guts to face off against the big boss. But the title role goes to Hephner, who grew up in rural Michigan, went to Sand Creek High School near Adrian and has been acting in film and television since about 2000.

SERIES PREMIERE: On Sunday night, gritty ballet drama “Flesh and Bone” (Starz at 8 p.m.; reviewed on C1 ), from “Breaking Bad” writer-producer Moira Walley-Beckett, begins its eight-episode run. It does get a little more complicated as it goes on — there are wheels within wheels, and plots behind plots — but action is the main course here, however many semi-meaningful dramatic condiments surround it.

Still, there’s something durably cathartic about the allure of a super-soldier tasked with putting away bad guys, unfettered by concerns about bureaucracy or diplomatic niceties. After landing an early role in director Joel Schumacher’s “Tigerland” starring Colin Farrell, Hephner went on to build a solid career as a frequent TV series regular and guest star.

Yet amid the high-voltage action, there is banter and always an open invitation to laugh if you want to—like when the show’s limber Slavic femme fatale and former circus contortionist has got yet another adversary trapped in a knee-lock. Stone, who serves as executive producer here, has turned in some superb work on TV and won an Emmy for a stint on “The Practice.” But it’s a mystery why she took on this show, which isn’t geared to showcase her. Her big moment of the hour comes when she runs interference for John by crashing an FBI tour and teasing a bratty kid that her father is going to be audited. The pilot features all the expected tropes — screaming damsel in distress, Russian baddies, and a hero who’s as quick with a quip as he is with his fists — as the daughter of the FBI director (Jamey Sheridan, “Arrow”) is kidnapped and the veep decides to use Case to intervene.

She actually provided me with the cover to get the job.” Hephner thinks the strong ensemble and unique plot twist of “Agent X” will be a hook for viewers. “It feels to me like a classic action show, stuff I grew up on. And Hephner is a capable action hero — he’s got the running and shooting and punching down, but also the smiling and flirting and whatnot. (Similarly gifted women come in and out of his orbit.) RETURNING SHOW: In Season 2 of “Untying the Knot” (Bravo at 9), prominent divorce attorney and mediator Vikki Ziegler continues her quest to help couples part with dignity. Again, if “Agent X” were a spoof, that secret room and its sliding-bookcase door would be strokes of brilliance; here, they’re just preposterous.

Bernard, Hilton Smith; director, O’Fallon; writer, Herron; camera, Joel Ransom; production designer, James Philpott; editors, Tirsa Hackshaw, Mitchel Stanley; music, Trevor Rabin, Paul Linford; casting, Mary Gail Artz, Shani Ginsberg. 120 MIN. You won’t care, as the shoot-outs persist, the computer systems enable impossible tasks, Olga and Case flirt, and the music tries to build tension despite the lack thereof. Then we get back in the car to go to the airport and we’re like, ‘How nice is it we’re going back to Chelsea,’ ” he says. “I’m building a chicken coop right now because we have chickens in the basement.

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