REVIEW: ‘The Peripheral’ is a Heavy Sci-Fi Thriller

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The Peripheral - But Why Tho

Prime Video has been on a tear lately when it comes to streaming content. The service has invested heavily in some big titles from The Boys, to The Rings of Power, but franchises like that come with the bar set high, and with expectations even higher. If you’re looking for something a little outside the obvious, then there’s a litany of really entertaining shows and films. One series to look out for that will be making its debut shortly is The Peripheral.

Adapted from the novel that was written by William GibsonThe Peripheral tells a story of multiple future timelines that are reliant on each other for survival. Flynn Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz) receives brand new technology to test a VR simulation game in order to earn some extra cash for her family. She’s startled when she discovers how life-like her out-of-body experience is. When she discovers that the sim is not a game, and in fact quantum tunnel into the future piloting an android, things go from complicated to bananas in seconds.

I love convoluted science fiction. There’s just something about the open-ended possibilities that lay ahead of us that leaves me feeling that edgy anticipation. Realistically, most futuristic sci-fi tells a bleak story in which society, through technology, has gone way off the rails. And in that case, I’m just left feeling relieved that it’s not all bad. But The Peripheral poses quite a compelling premise that holds you right in the middle of all of this.

When I learned that the show was executive produced by Jonathan Nolan, and Lisa Joy, a lot of what I had watched made perfect sense. The showrunners behind Westworld love toying with the ethical conundrums behind humanity’s mechanical creations and the dangers they can open up. However, machines aren’t necessarily the core antagonist here. The use of technology beyond our understanding is.

While this series is mind-bending fun and will challenge your concept of time travel ethics, the story does get caught on some very obvious snags. The plot has a very complicated back story to follow that gets bogged down without many explainers. I was fortunate enough to binge all 6 episodes in the series, and I found myself very compelled to keep watching, nevertheless I still found myself getting stuck around key phrases, timelines, and a few relevant plot points. Given the enjoyment I had in watching the series, I think it has more than enough at its core that people will keep coming back for more, but I felt it could have utilized an additional episode to get people up to speed.

That being said, the series does a brilliant job of utilizing the absence of these key details as a riddle to be solved by the viewer. As the mystery unfolds more is learned about Flynn’s current timeline and what the future of her world will turn out to one day be.

Moretz does a really fantastic job as the series’ lead and subverts expectations away from that of her marine brother Burton (Jack Reynor) as the level-headed tactician through her experiences as a VR gamer. Reynor and Moretz were a surprisingly good combination, and hats off to the casting pairing them as siblings because they encapsulate just the right amount of loving angst to sell their roles.

The visualization of the show and the types of technology on display are definitely large features that fans will enjoy. One aspect that was dauntingly beautiful was how the series captured what a futuristic London would look like. I have to commend the concept designers and the VFX artists here because some genuine thought has gone into how the city might look. You can see the restraint used not to go full cyberpunk, leaving it indistinguishable from any other major sci-fi cityscape.

What the series does best though, is the balance is strikes between plot and action. While at times it can be very heavy in the dialogue category, there’s also a plethora of great fight sequences that don’t hold back on the mature content warning. On that note, there are a few scenes that make interesting use of elements of body horror, so if you’re squeamish, watch out for that. The scenes are few and far between, but when it hits, oh boy.

The Peripheral is a bloody entertaining sci-fi, time-traveling escapade that will leave your head spinning and wanting to come back for more. The visuals are stunning, and it’s clear to see that money was spent on delivering a top-quality product. I’ve been very impressed with Prime Video lately, and if this is the standard we can continue to expect, then we’re in good hands.

The Peripheral Season 1 is a weekly series with Episode 1 debuting Friday, October 20th, 2022.


The Peripheral Season 1
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

The Peripheral is a bloody entertaining sci-fi, time-traveling escapade that will leave your head spinning and wanting to come back for more. The visuals are stunning, and it’s clear to see that money was spent on delivering a top-quality product.

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