We Own This City TV Review


Plot: Developed by George Pelecanos and David Simon, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and based on the book by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, We Own This City chronicles the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force and the corruption and moral collapse that befell an American city in which the policies of drug prohibition and mass arrest were championed at the expense of actual police work.

Review: You likely have heard from a friend or acquaintance or seen an article online contending that The Wire is the greatest television series of all time. The HBO drama about crime, corruption, and politics in Baltimore kickstarted the careers of multiple familiar faces including Idris Elba, Pablo Schrieber, Michael K. Williams, and countless more. Created by David Simon and Ed Burns, The Wire is a slow burn that builds multiple subplots into a mesmerizing drama as well as an indictment of the factions it portrays on screen. We Own This City, which comes from Simon and writer George Pelecanos, is rooted in the energy and style of The Wire but with a story from the recent past that rings especially true in our current societal state. In short, We Own This City is a masterpiece.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard), we own this city is led by an ensemble of characters who are involved or investigating Baltimore’s short-lived Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). In the wake of a shooting that caused a media frenzy, the GTTF became the face of the fight against violence in Baltimore. As the series opens, we meet Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal), the de facto leader of the GTTF and also one of the central figures in its demise. Over the six-episode series, We Own This City takes a cue from The Wire as well as Simon and Pelecanos’ The Deuce in showcasing a wide cast coming from different sides of the central narrative. With Bernthal on one side, we have Wunmi Mosaku (Loki) as attorney Nicole Steele on the other. As Steele contends with investigating the actions of the GTTF, Jenkins and his squad get fat off of the money and glory they acquire.


While We Own This City features familiar faces from Simon and Pelecanos’ previous series, including Jamie Hector, Rob Brown, and Don Harvey, there are other recognizable faces like Treat Williams, Josh Charles, and even 90210 alum Gabrielle Carteris in a key role. As much as these actors excel in their roles, the key performers here are Bernthal and Mosaku. Jon Bernthal has shown one hell of a range over his career from The Walking Dead to The Punisher as well as big-screen turns in The Wolf of Wall Street and last year’s King Richard. In reuniting with King Richard director Green, Bernthal finds a character with a full arc, rising from rookie officer to charismatic leader and eventual face of the racketeering charges that spelled the end of the GTTF. Bernthal commands the screen and his physical transformation over the episodes helps anchor you to the passage of time in this story,

For my money, Wunmi Mosaku is the real MVP of this show. David Simon managed to create a compelling series focused on Oscar Isaac’s underdog politician in 2015’s Show Me A Hero and the format of that story parallels Mosaku’s Nicole Steele. Working for the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice, Mosaku contends with those protecting the GTTF as well as the hurdles of being a Black, female attorney trying to take down corrupt cops. Mosaku was so good in both Lovecraft Country and an underused role in last year’s Loki that I was very excited to see her in this series. Her impeccable American accent aside, Mosaku is a breakout performer who deserves a lot more roles after this series.

Reinaldo Marcus Green was lauded for his work on King Richard, a film I found to be very overrated. While it was good, it never felt worthy of the accolades it was receiving despite a solid job from Green. His earlier film, Monsters and Men, was a far more accurate sample of his filmmaking abilities and I am glad to say that We Own This City is a worthy successor to that film. Green is a solid partner with Pelecanos and Simon and makes We Own This City feel like an organic addition to the legacy of The Wire as well as Simon’s New Orleans-set Treme. Filmed in a workmanlike manner that doesn’t require flashy editing or tricky camera angles, Green keeps the action focused on the characters and weaves together this multitude of narratives into a powerful and uniform story.

We Own This City is another masterpiece from Simon and will surely bring more awards for everyone involved. At only six episodes, this is a limited series but one that is packed with powerful moments. For anyone who didn’t love The Wire, and I hope there aren’t many, the pacing of this series should feel very familiar. This isn’t an action show nor a traditional procedural, but it is very deliberately paced with a lot of talking. While I wish there were iconic and memorable characters like Wendell Pierce’s Bunk Moreland or Isaiah Whitlock Jr.’s Clay Davis populating this series, We Own This City is as grounded and realistic take on Baltimore’s crime scene as The Wire ever was. This is a truly powerful and memorable show that I hope everyone checks out.

We Own This City premieres on April 25th on HBO.

We Own This City



Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com'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.