TWISTED METAL Review: Stars Shine Amidst Much Vehicular Mayhem

Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz are the saving graces in an otherwise wearisome action-comedy series, adapted from the video-game series, now streaming on Peacock TV.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
TWISTED METAL Review: Stars Shine Amidst Much Vehicular Mayhem

A male milkman meets a lady thief.

Twisted Metal
The 10-episode series is now streaming on Peacock TV .

It's getting crowded in the video-game adaptation space lately.

Earlier this year, moviegoers ignored our review and flocked to movie theaters in order to park their children in front of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, perhaps missing that the fun cold war thriller Tetris has just popped on Apple TV+. (See J. Hurtado's review out of SXSW for more on that film.)

Last week, Twisted Metal debuted on Peacock TV, just ahead of Gran Turismo hitting theaters next week. (To be fair, the latter is the true story of a video-game player who earned the reward of driving a real race-car in a real race-car event because he was such an awesome video-game player.) First released in 1995, Twisted Metal inspired a series of games, the last appearing in 2012.

In 2012, a big-screen feature film began active development, which was halted in 2017. More recently, the project was revived as a television series, with Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick on board to help develop. Michael Jonathan Smith (Cobra Kai) wrote the first two episodes, as well as the season finale, with television veteran Kitao Sakurai helming four episodes.

Peacock dropped all 10 episodes at once. Each episode runs about 30 minutes and is packed with vehicular mayhem, salty language, and a plethora of bloody violence. It's told with a wisecracking voice, where nothing is to be taken seriously, including the severed limbs and constant threat of imminent death.

In the midst of this carnage, Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz are the lead characters, unhappily yoked together initially before their steadfast walls of distrust slowly crumble and they become wary road warriors, in something resembling a (sort of) romance in the wrecked post-apocalyptic years. Their stand-off, get-away-from-me attitude is a defense mechanism against the horrors of their world, of course, and in the half-hour format, their relationship works effectively as a buffer to all the blood and violence.

Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz nicely invert stereotypical characterizations, with Mackie playing something like a teenager who is out of his depth when he's not driving his souped-up delivery car: a scared, callow, naive young person. On the other hand, Beatriz turns her trademark clipped, dismissive delivery into a weapon, almost equal to her ferocity as a killing machine with vengeance on her mind and in her heart.

The narrative arc may lack dramatic power or investment, but it's a suitable framework for bashing cars, crashing trucks, and killing people. A beefy killer with a clown mask is played by Samoa Joe and voiced by Will Arnett, with Thomas Haden Church as a road warrior who commands his troops while wearing a law officer's uniform.

Twisted Metal is exactly what it says on the tin: no more, no less. At least it's honest about that.

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Anthony MackiePeacock TVStephanie BeatrizTwisted Metal

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