November 26, 2018  (Web Review)

Strike Back: Cinemax Season Five

HBO, 3 discs, 471 min., TV-MA, DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $34.99

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

After a two-year hiatus, Cinemax’s series about a secret international team of gung-ho commandos returns with a new cast and new mission. The fifth season begins with the escape of terrorist mastermind Omair Idrisi (Don Hany) during a botched desert transfer survived only by British Sergeant Tom “Mac” McAllister (Warren Brown). Mac is quickly recruited by Colonel Donovan (Nina Sosanya) to join a reconstituted Section 20 to recapture Idrisi and shut down the operation he runs with his radicalized wife (Katherine Kelly). Mac partners with U.S. Sergeant Sam Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson), an undercover operative he must first rescue from Libyan soldiers who are holding him captive. And they are later joined by British intelligence officer Will Jensen (Phil Dunster) and two female squad members, British Captain Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee) and Australian Corporal Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata). The ensuing pursuit involves arms dealers, a white nationalist group, a renegade Chechen scientist, a Belarusian drug kingpin, and suspicious military contractors. The series serves up plenty of violent action, including many scenes in which team members are captured, tortured, and then rescued. Inevitably, governmental corruption enters the narrative, bringing some surprising twists and double-crosses. Although this may appeal to fans of macho action shows, devotees of previous seasons will likely find this reboot a tad disappointing—complicated and repetitive, with a cast that fails to fill their predecessors’ combat boots. Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes. A strong optional purchase. (F. Swietek)