Luke Cage: Not quite bulletproof

Picture this: A lone man walks into the headquarters of one of the most powerful crime bosses in Harlem, armed with nothing but his bare hands. After taking out five of his henchmen hand-to-hand, two of them pull their guns and start shooting. He stands and takes it, completely unaffected. When they run out of ammo he looks at them, almost bored, and says:

“I’m about sick and tired of always having to buy new clothes.”

Sound interesting? It did to me. That’s why when I saw the teaser for Marvel’s new Netflix series Luke Cage, I knew I had to watch it. I loved their other series, Daredevil. It had a great mix of action, suspense and good storytelling, and I was hoping Luke Cage would deliver more of the same. I’m sad to say it doesn’t.

When I first started Luke Cage, I liked it. It started slow, but introduced some cool characters, and a villain I was interested in. As it went on, however, the villain’s motives became confusing, and the characters just seemed shallow. I found myself asking, ‘Why did he do that? Who is this guy? What’s happening?’ a lot.

Cage has two super powers: super strength and bulletproof skin. It sounds cool at first, but it leads to some boring fight scenes. Where is the suspense in someone taking on six armed thugs alone if he can’t be hurt while doing it? It doesn’t help that Cage’s go to move is standing still while bullets bounce off him.

It seems like Luke Cage is trying to be more than just an action show. It tries to present the borough of Harlem, its culture, and the discrimination and abuse its people suffer daily. When it comes to showing off culture they do it well. My favorite parts of the show were the live musical acts that performed in the nightclub. They showed off a whole cast of real world musicians, and introduced me to some new favourites.

When it came to touching on real world issues, I felt the writers could have done better. There were some powerful images, and some crazy moments when they showed police treatment of minorities, but I felt the message was unclear at times. In one scene, they introduce a white cop and use him to establish the force, but in the next they have a black officer beating on a minority. It’s small holes like those that keep Luke Cage from reaching its full potential.

If you’re trying to get ready for Marvel’s upcoming Defenders series, then Luke Cage is a must watch, but if you’re looking for complex plot and interesting characters I’d give it a pass. This show has too many holes to be bulletproof.

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