Lost star Matthew Fox makes an underwhelming return to TV in Peacock’s Last Light, an apocalyptic thriller bogged down by dull family drama

Last Light - Limited Series Review


Last Light premieres on Peacock on Sept. 8, 2022.

Like so much modern television, Peacock’s miniseries Last Light opens in media res with its characters and world in crisis due to a catastrophic oil shortage. The biggest surprise is that the inevitable flashback starts just two days earlier. While the adaptation of Alex Scarrow’s apocalyptic thriller of the same name gets off to a promising start by warning that we are already living through the end times, it quickly loses steam as the focus shifts from intrigue to bland action and family drama.
Matthew Fox of Lost and Party of Five returns to acting after a six-year break to play Andy Yeats, a brilliant petrochemist deployed to the Middle East to investigate why his company’s operations are failing. When the problem spreads around the world, he must rush to find a solution before it’s too late while also trying to protect his family.
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Last Light starts off feeling a bit like the George Clooney political thriller Syriana, embroiling Andy in a rapidly unraveling government. But as the focus shifts to broad environmental messages and the generic scientist hero trying to round up his scattered loved ones, it winds up feeling much more like a less-spectacular version of Roland Emmerich’s climate change disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow.
Even though Fox has mastered the art of looking very concerned while he explains just how dire a situation is, Andy never feels legitimately heroic. He’s an agent of big oil who gave up on his environmentalist dreams to live in an estate in England complete with his own horse. A better version of the show would have presented Andy as more of an antihero. Instead, his good guy status is purely based on not being a murderer and having a family.
That family is fairly insufferable, their plots reminiscent of both the aforementioned The Day After Tomorrow and early seasons of 24. Andy’s wife, Elena (Joanne Froggatt of Downton Abbey), is annoyed by her husband’s demanding work even though it allows her to spend lavishly on medical research in the hopes of curing their blind son, Sam (Taylor Fay). Sam’s innocuous enough, but too much of the miniseries’ five episodes is wasted on Elena’s efforts to make sure he’s prepared for a surgery that’s pretty obviously not going to happen considering the world is falling apart. Some of the screen time devoted to Elena hunting for eye drops would really have been better spent developing any of the bad guys, who come off as knockoff Bond villains with befuddling motivations and plots that seem clever but never actually come to fruition.
Swept up in the chaos descending on Paris, Sam and Elena wind up getting help from climate refugees who have spent years waiting for the rest of the world to acknowledge the crisis they’re already living through. Drawing attention to their plight is a noble goal on the surface, but the writers clearly think we’ll only care if beautiful white people are put into the same horrible situations. Andy’s teenage daughter, Laura, is even more obnoxious, a parody of a Gen Z climate activist constantly berating her father for his work while inevitably getting in over her head.
The show quickly abandons its political intrigue in favor of thriller cliches and family drama.
Amber Rose Revah provided an excellent foil to Frank Castle as DHS special agent Dinah Madani in The Punisher and she’s meant to serve a similar role in Last Light as a British government agent tracking Andy’s work but suspicious of his motivations. Unfortunately she’s given far too little to work with, relegated to getting into pointless time-wasting arguments with her superiors and participating in the show’s lackluster action sequences.
It’s hard to argue that a bad show could have used another episode, but it feels almost like one is missing between the fourth and fifth installments as plots left hanging are hand-waved away in the rush towards a dull climax and overly optimistic denouement. The inconsistency is present throughout the series as who has access to energy feels entirely arbitrary, electric vehicles seemingly don’t exist, and police somehow still have time to respond to trespassing calls in the midst of a worldwide blackout.
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Samantha Nelson

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