I decided to watch this series after one of my action-buff friends suggested it. I had two minds while watching it. One because... well it is action. As I said earlier in another review (in my review of the series Hunters), I am not a fan of action. The second reason is, by my friend's description this felt no less than a one-guy-saves-the-world-all-by-himself saga. Hence, the two minds.
I was so sceptic that, I was waiting for something boring to happen throughout the first season. I had my x-ray vision on to look for any faults, at the writing level or direction level (not that I am adept in finding fault or even have the knowledge to find faults) but failed. In fact, after a few episodes in the first season, the cynical me went to the backseat and I got involved in the narration.
Having said that, let's dive into the series. Person of Interest came as a surprise to me and the main reason I watched it was because of this surprise - Jonathan Nolan. He is the brother of the legendary Christopher Nolan and a brilliant screenwriter in his own right. Jonathan Nolan is the creator of this show. Is it a surprise that this venture too is a science fiction and has loads of information to get educated from? This is not very different from the ventures of the other Nolan which are filled with excitement, drama and unparalleled entertainment throughout.
The premise is a moral twist on the Orwellian Big Brother with a literal all-knowing eye watching over everyone in the US. However, it has its own share of moral dilemmas raising some pertinent questions on the idea of surveillance and its credibility and the possible violation of privacy. Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) creates a machine develops a computer program that identifies people who are either perpetrators or victims (Persons of Interest) in an attack planned ahead. He starts off with a single employee, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) and over a period of episodes and season has a team with Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), Amy Acker (Root a.k.a Samantha Groves) and Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi). The entire series is about how this team away from the eyes of the law prevents these meditated acts of terror.
I don't want to explain anything more on the plot and spoil the experience of watching it. Each episode starts with (except for the initial few episodes) John Reese ambushing a perpetrator or saving a victim and then moves on to the next Person of Interest. During the course of the operation of saving the victim or preventing the terror attack the back story of the main characters are slowly unravelled along with the origin of the Machine - the central character of the whole series, an AI. With each of the backstories, the creators lead us into the personalities of each character. In some way or the other, there are one or more incidents which affect the decisions that each of these characters takes in the present. This applies to even the Machine which is an Artificial Intelligence.
It is interesting how the characters are constantly put into a state of a moral dilemma. Whether it is John who has to think whether he needs to save a victim or kill the perpetrator, Root who changes her way of action for a "greater cause", Carter, who finally gives in to the ideology of Finch, or my favourite, the way the Machine thinks of various ways of helping the Primary Assets - using simulations is brilliant. At no point of the series do things get disappointing. The thriller genre of the series takes care of the twists and turns which keep egging the plot forward. Shit hits the ceiling when another AI comes into the picture and takes one of the assets of the Machine hostage. This is when the episodes rise to a feverish pitch and the episodes though 40+ minutes long, pass by in swish.
However, the episodes get a little bit repetitive and gently lag. Probably it is because there is only so much that can be done at the screenplay level to make the series an interesting one. This is where the writing gets predictable. But that is the only complaint against the well written and directed limited series. The grand finale is the typical Nolanesque ending, i.e. open-ended though the series ends with that episode.
This is a good recommendation for all the nerds out there. The information that each episode provides ranging from science, history to arms and ammunition is just amazing. It is also a great series to indulge in if you are a connoisseur of action thrillers. For people who like drama, this is would satisfy their taste buds too! To sum up, this is what I would call a brilliant mix of genre-specific cinema that also caters to the needs of the mass and masala audience.