We Own This City: A Gripping Dive into Police Corruption and Scandal

We Own This City: A Gripping Dive into Police Corruption and Scandal

David Simon, the creator of The Wire and Treme, is back with an adaptation of Justin Fenton’s book, We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption. The latest HBO series delves into the corruption of a broken city, where the focus is on championing the city at the expense of actual police work. Starring Jon Bernthal (Punisher, King Richard), Wunmi Mosaku (Black Mirror, His House), and Rob Brown (Coach Carter, Find Forrester), the question arises: is We Own This City worth your time?

A Familiar Feeling with a Fresh Perspective

Upon finishing the pilot of We Own This City, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had just watched a new episode of The Wire. This isn’t a criticism, as We Own This City isn’t trying to bank on the popularity of its predecessor. However, once the credits rolled, I was left wanting more, as the pilot had just started to get really good.

Jon Bernthal shines as the star of the show. His opening speech is mesmerizing, blurring the lines between black and blue. He seemingly tells his officers that it’s okay to use brute force against criminals on the streets, but also says it’s a waste of time in the same breath. In reality, he’s condoning that destructive behavior. Without spoiling anything else, the climax of the pilot was so gripping that I’ve set a reminder for the next episode on Monday.

Exploring the Roots of Corruption

Venturing back into the corruption and scandal that has erupted in the media in recent years, following the tragic death of George Floyd, is a bold move. While we often see the exploration of these topics from the victims’ perspective, it’s refreshing to showcase the police side following the tragic aftermath.

The series aims to explore the root of the corruption that plagues these men and women sworn to protect their neighborhoods. Films and television have rarely delved into the core of the issue, only showing the outskirts of the crimes committed. The question of why these officers are corrupt is what makes this show compelling. Are they tired of the violence brought by low-level criminals? Are they genuinely racist? Or are they simply low-life scum who have crept into positions of power?

With David Simon at the helm, there’s no doubt that this show will be a thoughtful and memorable political piece.

Engaging Performances and a Brisk Pace

While Jon Bernthal’s performance may be the standout, the show doesn’t get boring without his presence onscreen. It’s a bit slow, but given its political and character-driven nature, that’s understandable. It never drags, but if you’re not into the political aspects, I suggest skipping We Own This City. Fans of The Wire will undoubtedly be entertained for the entire hour.

The characters are easy to invest in, and at times, I found myself wanting to punch a couple of the corrupt cops. Wunmi Mosaku, known for her strong performances in Loki and His House, is great in her role, but her character’s journey is just beginning, so the meat of her story isn’t quite there yet.

We Own The City moves at a brisk pace, with something always happening. However, nothing truly grabs your attention until the very end of the pilot. Is this the perfect pilot? No, but it’s a strong introduction to this world and a compelling one at that. The premise of police corruption and political scandal may not be new, but the show does a solid job of making you want to find out what happens in episode two.

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