America, Michigan, the depressive town of Kingstown, which houses several large prisons. Mitch McLaskey (Kyle Chandler) does not hold any official position in the city, but he is a very influential person, and everyone considers him: the police, criminals, prison guards and even special services. Mitch is the so-called “decider”: he has a lot of “strings” in his hands, for which he can pull, starting or changing certain processes. Mitch was even given the nickname Mayor – for the influence he enjoys. The local criminals also respect Mitch, who serves as an important link between various criminal gangs, police and prison guards. And one of the authorities of the African-American group Bunny (Toby Bamtefa) directly says to Mitch: “Yes, we would all have shot each other if it weren’t for you.”
Mitch’s right-hand man is the middle brother of the McLaskey family, Mike (Jeremy Renner). Mike always hated this city, he once served time in prison for something, Mike dreams of becoming a cook, but it turns out that he helps Mitch, who, by the way, got his current position from their father: he was also famous in the city “decisive”.
Mike is in Mitch’s shadow, but this suits him completely, and he himself does not want to take his brother’s place, but at some point a tragedy occurs: Mitch is attacked at the moment when he brings money that does not belong to him to his office. some visiting thug who stupidly kills Mitch so he can’t identify him. The police instantly figure out the bandit, find him and kill him during the arrest (no one wants the freak to be tried and then he was in prison), and Mike has no choice but to continue his brother’s work, because it was Mitch who was responsible for maintaining the fragile system of checks and counterweights, without which in this city, where there are already problems through the roof, everything could just go haywire.
Taylor Sheridan is a very good actor (he had a prominent role in the TV series “Sons of Anarchy”), but he is better known as a screenwriter who wrote the script for the very powerful film “Killer” by Denis Villeneuve, and Taylor also directed the excellent crime drama “Windwind” from his script. river”, where actor Jeremy Renner played one of the main roles.
So when I found out that Taylor Sheridan, along with Hugh Dillon, is one of the writers and showrunners of The Mayor of Kingstown, starring Jeremy Renner, I knew that I would definitely watch this series.
Needless to say, I liked the first season. But, to be honest, I expected a little more from Taylor Sheridan. Because both “The Killer”, for which Sheridan wrote the script, and “Wind River” are works quite realistic and very far from all this Hollywood.
“Wind River” is a depressing, realistic and completely uncompromising picture. There is not a drop of some kind of “cranberry”, everything is called by its proper name and everything is shown as it is: there are such territories, such and such events take place there, and the “right of the frontier” operates in these territories: if the fault of someone established and proven by local residents, they will not bring the culprit to justice, which practically does not work in these territories, they will punish him themselves, with their own hands.
Kingstown is, of course, not a frontier, but it is also an extremely depressive city serving large local prisons (this does not add optimism, does it?), in which criminal gangs, policemen, guards of local penitentiary institutions somehow try to coexist (they also have a serious influence in the city, subject to prisons). And all sorts of problems and contradictions between all these groups are sorted out by the McLaskey brothers, and then one McLaskey brother – the same Mike.
Filmed it’s great. Almost monochromatic Kingstown with its smoking chimney businesses and prisons, prisons, prisons, among which the huge central prison, which plays an important role in what is happening, stands out in particular.
Jeremy Renner is great. He’s really great with directors like Katherine Bigelow in The Hurt Locker, Taylor Sheridan in Windy River. His roles in all sorts of avengers and impossible missions are in no way impressive, but here is a completely different matter.
And Renner in this series, the character is somewhat reminiscent of his own sapper William James from The Hurt Locker. James was a mine clearer in Iraq, and at the same time he took terrible risks, with little regard for the mortal danger to which he was exposed, which made him an excellent specialist – Mike in this series does about the same thing: he is constantly engaged in raking up all kinds of shit, not having some special benefits for themselves (this is clearly stated), while at the same time taking a terrible risk. Well, Mike saw his brother lying with a bullet in the head in front of the safe in his office. And it doesn’t matter that he was shot by a random visiting bandit – Mike has every chance of ending the same way, well, their father, which is mentioned in the series, also ended his life in a similar way.
And Mike is actually acting on the verge of despair. He rakes it all up, because he cannot but rake it up – because there is simply no one else. Their father did it, his older brother Mitch does it, now Mike does it alone, he just can’t get off. In The Hurt Locker, it was shown that William James had a definite addiction to getting adrenaline while clearing mines. Mike has no adrenaline: he does not get any pleasure from it, he just solves problems, because if he does not solve them, then there will be no one to solve them.
Mike doesn’t really have any friends, no family, and lives in a wooden house in the middle of the woods – where there is no cell service and where they can’t call him on the phone. He is lonely, he hates this city, but he continues to do what he sees fit. And it’s a really great role: Renner’s character has a lot of very strong emotional moments there, although usually his Mike is quite reserved, and it’s played just brilliantly.
Of the secondary roles, several important characters can be noted. Hugh Dillon, who co-writer and showrunner with Taylor Sheridan, played Ian, one of the high-ranking officers of the Kingstown Police Department. Ian really liked Mitch, he’s on good terms with Mike, he’s a cop and he does his job. A good character and a fairly bright and prominent role.
Taylor Handley played the youngest of the McLaskey brothers, Kyle. He serves in the police under Ian, but Kyle is under the noticeable influence of his older brothers, Mitch and Mike, and then Mike alone. He has all sorts of problems in the family (Kyle lives in the same house with his mother and his wife), the police in this city do not always use legal methods – in general, Kyle has a hard time.
Dianne Wiest plays McLaskey’s mom Miriam. And this is a really powerful role! Miriam is a history teacher. She knows what role her husband played in the city, what role her eldest son played, and then her son Mike began to play. She hates what they do because she knows how it will all end. And she teaches history to female prisoners at the local prison: it’s her choice, she knows, like Mike, that there is no one else to do it but her. A wonderful role – realistic and impressive.
What do you not like here, you ask? Why did you expect more from Taylor Sheridan? Giving credit to how it’s all staged and played, I have big complaints about the script. Everything seems to be going well there, clearly and logically, and then suddenly bang – and some kind of complete madhouse: an event that does not fit into any logical constructions, and even more than one series is built on this event, it will come around in almost everything series season.
I will not discuss it here, so as not to spoil it, but I will write about it in a postscript.
What is the result? An interesting series worth watching primarily because of the staging and acting. Excellent acting, well directed. But there are specific plot twists that spoil the impression. Moreover, it is surprising that they could easily have been avoided by simply slightly changing the script. But for some reason they didn’t.
PS Well, about the fact that I did not like this series sharply.
Third series. Some fucking drug addict once again shied, dropped something somewhere, after which his house burned down along with his wife and child. A terrible tragedy, no doubt. But in the series, the police are terribly concerned that the drug addict, who, of course, will quickly be found, convicted and imprisoned, will immediately be soaked by the convicts in prison. What for? They were so shocked by the death of a woman and a child? These deaths, of course, are shocking, but have they never seen something like this?
And the drug addict – did he really burn them himself? He simply shrank and dropped something burning on the floor. But it shows that the police are really harnessing to the fact that the unfortunate jerk must be soaked in prison, and Mike is forced to agree on this. Although he knows perfectly well what problems this will lead to for everyone. But the police insist. And then the echoes of this story roam throughout the series: the convicts know that the police are in their debt, the police will not tolerate being blackmailed, and so on. The hell it was done – it’s completely incomprehensible. It’s illogical. Silly.
The second story is the very scary Milo Santer (played by Littlefinger from “Game of Thrones” Aidan Gillen), who sends the elite escort Iris to the town in order to, like, “control Mike”. She does not control any Mike, she herself gets into a terrible batch, her whole line looks absolutely far-fetched and sucked from the finger.
Well, also in the first season there are other questions about the script. That’s what I didn’t like about it, and that’s why I expected Taylor Sheridan and the crew to be a bit higher.
Mayor of Kingstown review
Director: Hugh Dillon, Taylor Sheridan Cast: Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest, Hugh Dillon, Toby Bamtefa, Taylor Handley, Emma Laird, Derek Webster, Hamish Allan-Hadley, Farese Lass, Aidan Gillen
Series, USA, 2021, 65 min. Drama, 10 episodes per season