For those of you with Amazon Prime, you might want to check out their new original series, ‘Sneaky Pete.’ This is another of the never ending series of web shows that seems to be designed specifically for binge watching.
The film stars the underrated Giovanni Ribisi (there’s a last name for Scrabble). Ribisi usually gets typecast as a slimy little weasel who is too smart for his own good (or some variation). In ‘Boiler Room’ he was a charismatic slimy little weasel who is the hero of the film. In ‘Flight of the Phoenix’ he’s the socially awkward slimy little weasel who saves the day even though everyone hates him. In ‘Avatar’ he’s the corporate shill slimy weasel who desperately needs a punch in the face. If Giovanni had more of a square jaw he’d be getting the kind of movies Ethan Hawke gets, which would be awesome because Ribisi is a much better actor than Hawke.
In ‘Sneaky Pete,’ Ribisi plays a slimy little weasel con artist named Marius Josipovic who is too smart for his own good. Bryan Cranston plays Vince, the mob boss, who Marius made the mistake of trying to con. Vince almost took care of Marius once, but Marius managed to get himself sent to jail instead.
The series begins as Marius is released from prison and promptly goes into hiding from Vince by taking on the identity of his cellmate Pete. As despicable of an act as this is, you never find yourself rooting against Marius (which is a testament to Ribisi’s acting chops). Marius actually does have some unselfish reasons for his subterfuge, but he’s not unwilling to perform harmful acts or put people at risk if he needs to.
‘Sneaky Pete’ does an excellent job of constructing tense and desperate situations that are mesmerizing to watch. Marius/Pete is forced to lie, con and swindle people constantly and is almost always on the edge of being caught. I mentioned ‘Breaking Bad’ before because much of the tension of the early years of ‘Breaking Bad’ revolved around whether or not Walter White’s dual life would be exposed.
Bryan Cranston’s Vince is more Heisenberg than White although flashes of both come through from time to time. His presence is welcome in ‘Sneaky Pete’ and is never allowed to overshadow Ribisi’s role as central character.
I’m only 5 episodes in, but will gladly finish out season one and I look forward to more. Most shows need a full season or two to truly blossom into something special, but the groundwork is well laid on ‘Sneaky Pete.’ If this is something you can find at Polvos Rosados, give it a look. The acting and writing are top notch, and this is another series that’s not afraid to take you to dark places.
One criticism I do have is the ‘Poker Game’ scene where they were using generic chips. I don’t think a high-class underground poker ring would use chips you can buy at a grocery store. That drove me absolutely nuts! But this is a minor issue…still, a bizarre prop choice on the part of the producers.
Here’s the Amazon link for those of you with prime.