Film & TV

‘Hawkeye’ Is A Mixed Bag Of Tricks And Arrows

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On a team with a supersoldier, a Nordic god and a millionaire philanthropist, what’s the use of a character with a skill from the paleolithic era?

Marvel’s new Disney+ series aims to finally provide an answer with their new show, “Hawkeye.”

Jeremy Renner (“Wind River,” “The Hurt Locker”) reprises the role of Clint Barton trying to return home for Christmas, with the caveat of needing to look after Hailee Steinfeld’s (“True Grit,” “The Edge of Seventeen”) Kate Bishop. Bishop, being a superfan of Barton’s and a prodigy archer in her own right, stumbles into the world of organized crime and accidentally ropes her idol along for the ride.

The series aims to explore the idea that heroes don’t need to have suits of armor or superpowers so long as you have courage and the willpower to do good. Even when Barton is given the handicap of losing his hearing, he still acts selflessly to protect others despite his impairments.

“Hawkeye” takes heavy inspiration from the groundbreaking 2015 comic series by Matt Fraction and David Aja. The art direction of the title and credits are ripped straight from the pages. While the plot isn’t exactly the same, the broad strokes still focus on Barton teaming up with Bishop to take down the comically named Tracksuit Mafia. 

At times, the show feels confused on whether it wants to be a straightforward adaptation of the comic or a more original work.

Some of the strongest moments from “Hawkeye” are directly from the Fraction and Aja series. The lively car chase in episode three, the comedic tracksuits as an antagonizing force, the big bad revealed towards the end and even Barton’s hearing loss all originate from the 2015 series.

Marvel, of course, has never shied away from their comic origins in film but rarely have the results ever felt so blatant. Direct comparisons to the original comic series are inevitable, and as enjoyable as “Hawkeye” can be at times, it just doesn’t live up to its inspiration.

The first two episodes really highlight the added aspects that fall flat. The most notable example comes in the form of a murder mystery unique to the show. 

The victim is introduced and killed in a very short duration, resulting in them not having enough relevancy to the show to make the audience care for their death. The perpetrator of the mystery is also way too obvious to see coming. It’s dull, predictable and a shame this plot-line is the one that kicks off the series.

Starting from episode one, Kate Bishop surprisingly takes center stage with Steinfled’s energetic performance quickly outshining her own sidestory.

The dynamic and mysteries between Bishop, her mother and stepfather is initially compelling, but drawn out so long that it starts to feel dull in comparison to the rest of the show.

Even after Renner and Steinfeld finally team up, the family drama persists to the point of redundancy. It doesn’t help that Barton doesn’t want anything to do with Bishop for the first two episodes, hinting Renner himself might not want anything to do with the show.

Episode three is where “Hawkeye” really seems to find its footing as it mixes inventive fight choreography with playful banter between Renner and Steinfeld as the two finally start getting along.

Episode three also introduces Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez aka Echo, who herself is not only deaf but also an amputee. Circling back not only to Clint Barton’s hearing loss but also Makkari in “Eternals” and the reintroduction of Daredevil, it seems Marvel is rightfully making it a priority to include heroes of affliction-representation. 

The surprise inclusion of Florence Pugh (“Midsommar,” “Little Women”) returning as Yelena Bolova from last summer’s “Black Widow” adds more delight by having her own playful interactions with Kate Bishop.

The final episode builds to an incredible action sequence held at Rockefeller center, brimming with style as both archers take out dozens of henchmen in an array of tricks, gadgets and creative arrows that climaxes in the form of three separate one-on-one fights each ending with a catharsis.

It would be a crime not to mention the reveal of the big bad of the show, the return of Vincent D’Onofrio (“Full Metal Jacket,” “Men In Black”) as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. Not missing a beat from his “Daredevil” days, D’Onofrio continues to play the Kingpin of crime with menace, sophistication and a note of childishness.

It may not live up to its source material and it may take too long to get engaging but once the show stops taking itself too seriously, the adventure really starts to kick off.

The holiday spirit embedded throughout will make it a must-watch for families at home and the action and comedy hits the bullseye far more than it misses.

“Hawkeye,” rated TV-14, is streaming now on Disney+.

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