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  • Robert Farago

The Night Agent - Movie Review

Goodnight Irene!

As a crime mystery novelist, I put a lot of effort into plot. If the plot isn’t believable, the reader loses faith with the characters, the story and the author. A piercing glimpse into the obvious? Certainly.

What isn’t obvious: why so many of today’s movies make no sense whatsoever.

There are two possible explanations: either people are too stupid to see the narrative Swiss cheese or the filmmakers don’t give a shit because people are stupid to see the holes in the narrative Swiss cheese.

Given the lamentable state of our education system and Hollywood’s serious series addiction, I’m going with both. Which brings us to The Night Agent, currently Netflix’s most popular program. Here’s the official 411:

While monitoring an emergency line, a vigilant FBI agent answers a call that plunges him into a deadly conspiracy involving a mole at the White House.

If The Night Agent was set in East Germany before reunification, if Peter Sutherland was a Stasi agent listening to politicians having phone sex, fine. That would explain the locked, windowless room on at least two levels.

But no, The Night Agent is set in modern day America, where the White House looks like a mid-market golf club and people say things that no one would ever say with all the emotion of a department store mannequin.

Spoiler alert (although I challenge anyone to stay alert for the requisite 7.5 hours): a bunch of assholes want to kill the President. The mole in Netflix’s description isn’t a mole. She just plays one on TV.

Symbolically speaking, she’s a mole amongst moles – all of whom are easier to spot than a labor of sunbathing moles. Quite which mole’s doing what, when, where, with whom and why is never fully revealed – until you’re past caring.

Or maybe my mind rejected the idea that a White House Chief of Staff would commission a cut-rate version of Léon The Professional and his grown-up psycho-bitch to kill a bunch of people to cover up a plot to kill a bunch of people on a subway train to blow up a gas main to take out a terrorist in the streets above.

A plan co-hatched by a spineless Vice President who wants to kill the President because she’s spineless. And so he can give a presidential pardon to the arms manufacturer he charged with carrying out the failed bomb plot.

And the Chief mole – who’s totally OK with killing everyone even remotely associated with the original plot – but balks at taking out the President of the United States of America. Because Ms. Mole believes in Madame Prez’s political agenda. And they were college roommates (or something).

That’s not even The Night Agent’s silliest shit. How about the Veep’s hostage daughter tapping a message on her necklace in code that ID’s a shipping container’s number that she discovered by kicking drywall within one foot of the bed to which she was chained?

Or Agent Sutherland stashing his laptop-schlepping damsel-in-distress with his cop friend without warning said BFF that professional assassins with a knack for killing everyone but Rose and Peter are on their trail. Again. Still.

Well yeah they kill Peter’s old playmate. Triggering a brief bout of guilt from an FBI Agent plagued by his father’s alleged-but-never-proven treason. Dad being a former Fibbie whose off-stage car wreck death guarantees Season Two resurrection.

Meanwhile, his footstep-following son continues ferrying his love interest hither and yon in his ex-girlfriend’s clothes (the love interest not Peter).

They’ve only got X number of days (in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself) to figure out how to stop something bad happening.

If Peter and Rose were trying to stop bad acting and dialogue so stilted it would give a circus clown pause, The Night Agent is an epic fail.

If the scriptwriters were trying to distract viewers from plot holes deeper than the Mariana Trench with diversity, equity, shootouts, car chases, more assassinations than a Brazilian death squad and two sex scenes, I gotta admit, mission accomplished.

Hey, what’s sexier than a professional killer who can’t get it up for his psychotic sidekick, who wants to settle down and do soccer Mom shit?

Not The Night Agent’s eponymous hero. Great bod, but FBI Agent Peter Sutherland’s got about as much sex appeal a Ken doll.

The inevitable scene where Rose and Peter bump uglies does nothing to diminish the impression that “straight arrow” may not be the most appropriate description of our leading man. Just sayin’.

No doubt millions of movie aficionados couldn’t give a shit about The Night Agent’s plot-pourrie. They simply pick-up what the scriptwriters are putting down, then put it back down and wait for some more gunplay.

At some point, it’s easy to ignore The Night Agent’s literal nonsense – there’s so much of it. Identical twins? GTFO. As you expect, the series reaches peak ridiculousness for its S1 denouement.

We see people smuggled into Camp David in the back of an SUV, walk around the grounds and through the buildings armed and unescorted, plant a bomb in a back room, jam all communications (without the U.S. going to DEFCON 1), hack all communications with a laptop and plant a bomb on Marine One.

Only the most intellectually-challenged viewer would buy that for a dollar. Actually, that’s not fair. There are lots of intelligent people who enjoy watching incredibly stupid shit as long as there are good guys with guns doing good guy stuff. With guns. And shit blows up.

In the same way my mother used to “fact check” President Nixon by shouting at the TV, the viewership Venn diagram must include action movie aficionados who gather ‘round the boob tube to yell “bullshit” at The Night Agent.

Anyway, Peter Sutherland’s prize for saving the President: a job in an off-the-books FBI division. Mission undesirable! The last thing America needs is another off-the-books FBI operation.

Then again, I would’ve said the last thing Netflix needs is another anodyne action hero doing stuff for no good reason. Who saw that one coming? Aside from everybody else but me.

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