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The Longest Night – Action-Packed, Character-Driven Prison Drama but Way Too Short

SERIES REVIEW – One Long Night had all the makings of a huge hit. An eclectic, diverse group of characters, an interesting setting, and a constantly explosive standoff between a plethora of characters. Everything was in place for the makers to capitalize on this basic story. Unfortunately, the problem is with the execution…

 

 

Netflix’s Spanish prison mini-series, spread over six episodes, is a breathtaking, frenetic and fascinating piece of work that never stops for a moment as it rushes through the main action. The problem is that the exciting story comes at the expense of memorable characters who eventually fade into mediocrity, leaving little time for anything to emerge from their simple journey beyond boring clichés.

 

thegeek The Longest Night 1

 

Simon, the serial killer everyone is after

 

The story is pretty simple, with multiple layers of conflict. At the centre is a serial killer named Simon (Luis Callejo). He’s arrested in the middle of the night and taken to the psychiatric prison Baruca, where Warden Hugo Roca (one of the stars of Narcos: Mexico) is called in on Christmas Eve to handle his incarceration. Unfortunately, he is forced to drag his children along with him, thanks to family problems at home.

Unbeknownst to Hugo Roca and the others, armed mercenaries are on their way to take Simon alive, having been contracted by a mysterious person who has his own plans for the night. These plans only come to light late in the game, but it’s not a spoiler to say that they’re trying to keep Simon’s mouth shut, lest he reveals some secrets to the judge and jury in a court trial in the morning.

With mercenaries on the way, Hugo’s situation becomes even more precarious when he learns that his other daughter Laura is being held for ransom. If they don’t hear from Simon by one in the morning, they will kill her. This puts Hugo in an impossible situation as he juggles his family’s lives against those in prison.

 

thegeek The Longest Night 2

 

One-dimensional characters

 

On paper, this actually creates a rather interesting conflict. The problem is that One Long Night is so rushed from scene to scene that it never takes the time to really get to know these characters. Hugo is a bit like the usual archetypal male protagonists who take on intruders in an impossible situation, gripping a gun and who we’ve seen in several video games, but he also bears a striking resemblance to 24’s Jack Bauer. Similarly, the attacking commando mercenaries – including the otherwise interesting-looking Ruso (Roberto Álamo) and Lennon (José Luis García Pérez) – are given minimal characterisation and character beyond being mere assassins. They are incredibly one-dimensional, as are many of the prison guards.

The prison inmates are a little more interesting in this respect, thanks partly to the flashbacks inserted into each episode that reveal how some ended up in prison.

As for Hugo’s only backstory, we get on him is a small snippet of his tense family life in the first episode and a series of flashbacks with Laura that tie it all together for the end of the series. I will say this, though, that anyone who is persuaded to take the plunge into this series should be aware that the first season ends on a brutal cliffhanger, while there is no chance of another season, despite the showrunners having planned four (!) more seasons.

 

thegeek The Longest Night 3

 

Rushed pacing

 

The biggest problem with The Longest Night, however, is its pacing. But there are hints of a good story here and some fascinating scenes – especially when the inmates and the invaders clash. But all of this is rushed through in a series that should have taken about 10-12 episodes to get to know all the characters and story threads properly.

One of the reasons why series like Prison Break and Money Heist – which seem so similar in execution to this – work so well is because of the quiet, thought-provoking moments. You can’t keep going on because the plot and the viewer’s attention get drowned out after a while.

In The Longest Night, we got to spend a lot of time with each prisoner, understanding their psyche and how they fit into the hierarchy of the prison. In addition to the action in Money Heist, we also get to see calm scenes where, for example, Tokyo is contemplating, or the Professor is pondering his next move, heightening the tension as we wonder what the next step will be for the characters. Apart from waiting for the mercenaries to show up in the first episode, there is nothing like that in The Longest Night.

 

 

The irony of the title

 

The choice of title is also somewhat ironic: for a series called The Longest Night, this series should have been much longer to really emphasise the threat and the stakes. Instead, the writers are so desperate for plot and action that they lose sight of the characterisation of the main characters. Instead, what we get is an average prison drama, both in plot and characterisation, that is unlikely to be remembered for long.

If you want a fast-paced, action-packed prison drama and don’t mind the clichés of other series or the barely fleshed-out characters, you might enjoy the six episodes of The Longest Night. While there are definitely some standout moments and interesting characters, the rushed script doesn’t develop them sufficiently as it rolls through the main plot. There’s no way you’ll be bored, but it’s also worth knowing in advance that despite the cliffhanger, it doesn’t look like there will be another season of the series for the time being.

-BadSector-

 

SERIES REVIEW - One Long Night had all the makings of a huge hit. An eclectic, diverse group of characters, an interesting setting, and a constantly explosive standoff between a plethora of characters. Everything was in place for the makers to capitalize on this basic story. Unfortunately, the problem is with the execution...     Netflix's Spanish prison mini-series, spread over six episodes, is a breathtaking, frenetic and fascinating piece of work that never stops for a moment as it rushes through the main action. The problem is that the exciting story comes at the expense of memorable characters who…
If you want a fast-paced, action-packed prison drama and don't mind the clichés of other series or the barely fleshed-out characters, you might enjoy the six episodes of The Longest Night. While there are definitely some standout moments and interesting characters, the rushed script doesn't develop them sufficiently as it rolls through the main plot. There's no way you'll be bored, but it's also worth knowing in advance that despite the cliffhanger, it doesn't look like there will be another season of the series for the time being.

The Longest Night

Direction - 6.8
Actors - 7.2
Story - 5.8
Visuels/Action - 8.2
Ambience - 6.8

7

FAIR

If you want a fast-paced, action-packed prison drama and don't mind the clichés of other series or the barely fleshed-out characters, you might enjoy the six episodes of The Longest Night. While there are definitely some standout moments and interesting characters, the rushed script doesn't develop them sufficiently as it rolls through the main plot. There's no way you'll be bored, but it's also worth knowing in advance that despite the cliffhanger, it doesn't look like there will be another season of the series for the time being.

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