'Poker Face' Premiere Review: Rian Johnson delivers an all-around hit with whip-smart storytelling

'Poker Face' Premiere Review: Rian Johnson delivers an all-around hit with whip-smart storytelling
Natasha Lyonne as Charlie in 'Poker Face' (Peacock)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Rian Johnson is turning out to be one of the most bankable filmmakers and has a knack for creating stories that keep viewers at the edge of their seats. The director is responsible for the revival of ‘whodunits’ in the world of cinema with mind-boggling mystery films like ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’. Now, he is set to enthrall viewers once again with the highly-anticipated Peacock mystery comedy-drama titled ‘Poker Face’ and it’s nothing like anything you have seen before.

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‘Poker Face’ is a case-of-the-week series that primarily focuses on a casino worker named Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) who is forced to leave her job and be on the run after she exposed one of the biggest names in the casino world. The person’s entire family is now behind her and wants her dead, but Cale has magnificent power and can tell people if they are telling the truth or lying by just looking at them. Each week viewers get to see new characters as Cale travels across different parts of the US while solving crimes with the help of her sharp mind and superpower.

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A still from 'Poker Face' (Peacock)
A still from 'Poker Face' (Peacock)

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The Peacock series is an ‘inverted detective story’ in which audiences already know who has done the crime and who’s really behind it. In such shows, the sense of suspense doesn’t come from trying to find out who committed the crime but from how the killer would be held accountable for his actions. This sub-genre is also called ‘howcatchtem’, which was made popular by the crime series ‘Columbo’. However, ‘Poker Face’ is much different than all the projects that we have seen in recent years because Charlie is not a cop or isn’t called in to investigate the crime. But she is there all along and often finds herself in places where something diabolical is going to happen.

Just like Johnson’s previous work, ‘Poker Face’ is also a character-driven project and he is interested in showing what they are doing in their own space. The director never goes out of the way to take them out of their ecosphere.

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The ‘Knives Out’ filmmaker has once again shown us why he is one of the greatest storytellers of this generation and uses his skills to give a series that’s riveting as well as super-entertaining. Even though each episode is different from one another, Johnson always keeps us on a path where he wants us to go and reach a destination that he intended to take us to.

Adrien Brody as the Casino Boss in 'Poker Face' (Peacock)
Adrien Brody as the Casino Boss in 'Poker Face' (Peacock)

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As far as acting is concerned, ‘Poker Face’ is one of the few shows where every actor has given a superlative performance. No single actor stands out and performances are really impactful. This is what we call true teamwork. However, Natasha Lyonne owns the series with a commanding performance that sees her going through a lot of challenging sequences. The actress does a phenomenal job of making viewers know how much she loves meeting new people and connecting with them. For some, it might not be a big thing, but her interactions with the victims are actually important and make viewers care for them. All in all, Lyonne is the real star of the show and you won’t be able to take your eyes off her.

Meanwhile, guest stars such as Adrien Brody, Benjamin Blatt, Chloe Sevigny, Stephanie Hsu, Jameela Jamil, Hong Chau, and others are phenomenal in their respective roles and take the series to a whole new level.

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All in all, ‘Poker Face’ is packed with characters that are relatable, and lovable and successfully revived the howcatchem format with mind-boggling storylines. The case-of-the-week series also features clever writing that will force everyone to binge the first four episodes. Peacock starts the year with a classy and charming case-of-the-week series featuring Johnson’s stylish direction and flawless writing.

Undoubtedly, it’s one of the best shows of the year.

The first four episodes of ‘Poker Face’ will be streaming exclusively on Peacock on Thursday, January 26, at 3:01 am EST.

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