TV Review: Jett

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

TV Review, Jett, Cinemax, Drama, Thriller, Crime, Sebastian Gutierrez, Carla Gugino, Michael Aronov, Giancarlo Esposito

Synopsis: Fresh out of prison, retired professional thief Daisy (aka “Jett”) Kowalski is reluctantly drawn back into doing what she does best after being forced to quit following the birth of her child. Narrowly completing a dangerous “final” job, she finds herself pulled back into a series of assignments masterminded by ruthless criminals, who are determined to exploit her skills for their own ends. 

TV Review, Jett, Cinemax, Drama, Thriller, Crime, Sebastian Gutierrez, Carla Gugino, Michael Aronov, Giancarlo Esposito

Review: There have been quite a few collaborations between real life couple Sebastian Gutierrez and Carla Gugino dating back to the director's debut, JUDAS KISS, in 1998. Since then, the pair have made a lot of movies ranging from horror (SHE-CREATURE) to ensemble comedies (ELEKTRA LUXX, WOMEN IN TROUBLE). Gutierrez even worked on Gugino's short-lived series Karen Cisco which may have served as inspiraton for their new Cinemax series, Jett, which falls in the same category as the best works of Elmore Leonard. In many ways a successor to the great crime series Justified, Jett feels like vintage Quentin Tarantino crossed with Steven Soderbergh with a knockout performance from Gugino. This is definitely one of the best shows Cinemax has aired in a long time and should be at the top of your summer watch list.

The first episode of Jett opens with a scene that recalls PULP FICTION featuring two criminals bantering before entering an apartment where things go a bit awry. From that first sequence, I knew I was going to like Jett, but was fully expecting it to be a derivative of Tarantino rather than something much more. Staying invested for the five episodes made available for review and not only does this series stand on it's own, but it may be the best example of this type of storytelling since OUT OF SIGHT or JACKIE BROWN. From the pulpy noir dialogue and Jett's whip-crack mouth, this is a character that Carla Gugino was born to play and she elevates the already talented cast to another level. This may even be the best thing that Sebastian Gutierrez has made to date.

With each successive episode, Jett becomes increasingly harder to categorize. While starting out as a Tarantino-like ensemble crime story, it morphs into a black comedy, a prison thriller, a heist adventure, and eventually into something more akin to an independent drama. All of this is anchored by a supporting cast of familiar faces led by Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito who plays a very different kind of kingpin, Charlie Baudelaire, one much more suave than Gus Fring. It is his relationship with Jett and a seemingly simple caper to steal a ring in Cuba that puts the rest of the story in motion. It is from that initial job that we meet an increasingly more deadly roster of bad guys including Miljan Bestic (Greg Bryk) and his crony Evans (Gil Bellows) to undercover agent Jackie Dillon (Michael Aronov) and his sexy partner (Jodie Turner-Smith) who may be more than they seem.

All of this crime is balanced by Jett's home life which includes her daughter and her live-in friend Maria (WONDER WOMAN's Elena Anaya) whose relationship with Jett is difficult to describe. None of the characters on this show are easily categorizable which makes it even harder to figure out who to trust. This includes the hooker with a heart of gold, Phoenix (Gaite Jansen), the cunning safecracker Quinn (Mustafa Shakir) and Charlie's duplicitious Junior (Gentry White). There is even a great cameo from the always enjoyable Bruce Greenwood that continues the upward momentum of this show from episode to episode.

TV Review, Jett, Cinemax, Drama, Thriller, Crime, Sebastian Gutierrez, Carla Gugino, Michael Aronov, Giancarlo Esposito

But none of this would work if not for Carla Gugino. While she delivered a heart-wrenching turn in last year's The Haunting of Hill House, Jett is the role she was born to play. Equal parts sexy and strong, Gugino fully inhabits Daisy Kowalski and stands her ground amongst these male characters without her gender ever being called into question. Gugino is clearly a beautiful woman, but her attractiveness becomes secondary to her acting talent here. Like Charlize Theron in ATOMIC BLONDE, Jett is more than just a pretty package and every person she goes toe to toe with walks away knowing they met their match. More so than any role she has played, Carla Gugino should be identified with Jett.

From the eclectic soundtrack to the solid cast that is as good from the single-scene performers to the recurring roles, Jett is as fun as it is enthralling. Each new episode further complicates the story as Jett lays the groundwork for her plan. But, as confident as we are in Jett's ability to exact her revenge, the narrative never portrays it as a sure thing which adds just enough suspense to the equation to keep the story moving forward. Sebastian Gutierrez and Carla Gugino prove that they are formidable creative team both on screen and behind it and make Jett one of the best cable debuts in a long time. There is something here for everyone: one-liners, sex, drugs, music, and a story that echoes great contemporary filmmakers while still setting it's own unique perspective and style. Jett is a high octane series that will keep you watching from the first gunshot until the final casing hits the ground and you will love every second of it.

Jett premieres June 14th on Cinemax.

TV Review: Jett




About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.