'Too Old to Die Young': Nicolas Winding Refn's neon-lit nightmare is just as disturbing as you'd expect
The name Nicolas Winding Refn resonates with certain signature traits: neon lights, eerie scenarios and a troubled central character meandering through the cut-throat streets of LA.
The Danish director—who had famously proclaimed “Television is dead. Television will not be reborn”— now has a brand new offering in the form of Amazon thriller titled 'Too Old to Die Young' (TOTDY).
In the new series, Refn deftly explores his signature tropes as the digs deeper into LA's underbelly. The dreadful, tense pauses that peppered his past creations such as 'Drive' and 'The Neon Demon' are also present here in full flourish.
In 'TOTDY', the story is told from the point of view of Miles Teller's protagonist cop Martin as he unravels the slimy webs of the LA underworld.
The show has zombies, Yakuza soldiers, cartel assassins, teenage gang killers, and, of course, the Mafia, making it a treat for enthusiasts of the indie-noir genre.
The series begins with Martin grieving as his partner is shot dead. However, instead of tracking down his partner's killer, he joins hands with him and soon finds himself falling deeper into the rabbit hole that is the LA underworld.
Teller is every bit as compelling as his performance in the Oscar-nominated movie 'Whiplash' even though Martin is nothing like the character from the 2014 film.
Martin's forgiving nature reminds us of Ryan Gosling's lead role in 'Drive'. And just like 'The Neon Demon', the goriest violence gets incorporated into the plot with such subtlety that it's hard to figure out just where the story is heading.
The perverse undertones are undeniable and become an indispensable element in the 10-part first season.
Martin has the boyish charm that helps him masquerade his insidious nature which he only exhibits in neon-lit darkness.
Martin preys on predators and refuses to take up regular hit-jobs. He isn't killing for kicks. All he feels is a forlorn emptiness after each kill—something that proves crucial in helping him relate to the natural-born murderer that we see in the form of John Hawke.
The highlight of Refn's first shot at a television series still proves to be the consistent, dry tone of the show. There isn't any unnecessary dark humor, nor some ill-fated romance budding amidst the strangest characters.
'TOTDY' is a dry-humored story of a vigilante stepping in from the sidewalk and is laden with provocative sexual imagery. There is plenty of violence in the series and Refn expertly balances the gore with drawn-out silences and intense death glares.
At its core: the show is a sexually charged cat-and-mouse game between the predator and the prey, presented to connoisseurs of the genre in an extremely appetizing manner.
'Too Old to Die Young' is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, June 14.