“True Detective” – First Reviews Round-Up

As we mentioned yesterday the first reviews for “True Detective” are getting released. HBO only send out screeners for the first 3 episodes and a few sources have published their reviews already. Overall the reviews are positive, and while some critics seem to think it doesn’t live up to season one yet they also say they see potential for the rest of the season. We will round-up the reviews in this post, especially the ones focussing on Rachel. The reviews mentioning Rachel’s performance all praise it! This post will be edited when more reviews are getting released.

“HBO’s hit show struggles the second time around — but Rachel McAdams shines. So here’s the surprise twist: Rachel McAdams makes a hell of a cop. She’s easily the best thing about the second season of True Detective. Her transition from mean girl to bad cop is amazing: She’s a tightly wound, sarcastic loner with a thing for knives and no particular desire to hide her rage.It’s one thing for the doe-eyed starlet from The Notebook to cut it as a hard-boiled Southern California cop. It’s quite another for her to be the most credible and convincing thing about the show — but here we are. The new-model True Detective would be lost without her. It’s an old-school anthology series, where every season is a different story with a different cast — no more Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson on the Louisiana bayou. Instead, it’s an L.A. County criminal-conspiracy story full of philosophical speeches — basically The Chinatown Monologues. So it all comes down to McAdams, the only cookie here you’d be scared to tangle with. It was a surprise to see McAdams on True Detective. But it’s even more of a surprise that she turns out to be the truest detective here.”
Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

“But the revelation is Rachel McAdams, as Ani Bezzerides […] Her voice quakes with rage and anguish and fear and disgust and despair. In her ragged hatred of the world as it is, she is sexy as hell. The show is an atmosphere that is equal parts apocalyptic dread, intellectual despair, and beautiful cynicism. That’s better than a walk through a beautiful June day any time.”
Stephen Marche, Esquire

“True Detective Season 2 Elevates McAdams as the New McConaughey, But Gets Lost in the Darkness […] McAdams, in particular, stands out, and you get the feeling early on the second season as a whole will hinge upon her development. After three episodes, there’s no question she can handle whatever’s thrown her way. The popular rom-com star settles into Ani’s skin with surprising ease, instantly owning the role and overcoming some difficult introductory scenes packed with what’s nearly too much information. Instead of overplaying these difficult moments, McAdams cuts to the core of her character, refusing to play into stereotypes on either side of past ‘lady cop’ examples. Not too hard, not too weak, Ani is the truest detective of the bunch.”
Ben Travers, Indiewire

4/5 stars
“It’s still the kind of show that makes TV viewers reach for phrases like golden age of television drama.’ It’s dense and it’s dark. If there were a quiz, you’d have to take notes. But the show breezes through the most important of all viewer tests: At the end of the three episodes, you’re itching to see the fourth […] Ani brings a strong female presence into the game.”
David Hinckley, New York Daily News

“When Ani, Ray, and Paul are drawn together as a unit, it takes a while to establish any kind of chemistry between them, because they’re all variations of the Mann-style, soul-sick badass. Season two of True Detective is a nasty treat for the eyes and ears. Every few minutes, there’s an image that’s as meaningful as it is lovely to look at: a wide shot of a seedy bar near a railroad track lit like an Edward Hopper painting; a low-angle pan across a stretch of elevated highway that makes it seem as though you’re an ant watching a python slither past; a helicopter shot of intersecting overpasses that visually establishes Southern California, and America, as a co-dependency of interests. Throughout, the synthesized score keeps rumbling and droning. We’re in the belly of some rough beast.”
Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture

“This is a dreamworld, one that explores those “baser tendencies” in a way that only the subconscious can, and certain scenes stick with me long after I’ve watched. When a lounge singer in a ’70s powder blue suit appears before Farrell’s detective, crooning an eerie version of “The Rose,” it’s as haunting as any Twin Peaks outtake, and it makes me want to see more. For now, my expectations are still high—probably too high for this show. But maybe you can’t truly hate True Detective unless you love it enough to let it disappoint you.”
Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

“Season two may yet reach those magnificent if flawed heights, provided a little bit of magic dust falls on the right places. But after watching the first three episodes that HBO sent to critics (of eight total episodes), the completely revamped cast of this True Detective has its work cut out for it. And not because any one individual has to one-up McConaughey or Harrelson, but because expectations and interest will be (fairly or not) higher than the first one, which came in as an intriguing idea on paper and then went way past that with its execution.”
Tim Goodman, THR

“None of the shortcomings are necessarily the fault of the stars, who are saddled with a heaviness and gloom that pervades the entire production. As noted, there are first-rate actors down to the fringes — James Frain, W. Earl Brown, Lolita Davidovich, Abigail Spencer, David Morse and Kelly Reilly as Frank’s wife among them — reflecting all the trappings of a prestige project, even if what emerges doesn’t initially scale those heights. Having seen this much, there’s certainly a sense of curiosity regarding where the story ends up, and a relatively short commitment to reach the finish line. And expecting Pizzolatto to catch lightning in a bottle again, starting from scratch with a new directing team and cast, was perhaps simply too much to ask.”
Brian Lowry, Variety

“Watching the first episode of True Detective season 2 now. Will give my quick hot take on completion. Well, that was spectacular. Going to be very different from season one. Somehow even darker. Colin Farrell kills in ep. 1 Taylor Kitsch kills just as hard. Rachel McAdams might kill the most.”
Shane Ryan, Twitter @ShaneRyanHere

“The acting from all four major characters is superb. I can see why so many actors lobbied hard to be in this series as each role is incredibly nuanced. Everyone in Hollywood knows Rachel McAdams is a skilled actress so her performance isn’t really surprising.”
Terry Terrones, Gazette

3,5/5 stars
“Not only do we now have female characters who aren’t just sex workers or harpy wives, we also have a terrific performance out of McAdams that’s all bruiser, no bull. For better or worse, her addition can be read as a silver bullet designed to put down True Detective’s rap for female characters written as victims or incompetents. Bezzerides is, in many ways, a hammer of a character, striking but singular in function.”
Sam Woolf, We Got This Covered

4/5 stars
“The closest we came to a good guy was a woman: Rachel McAdams’s Antigone (Ani for short) Bezzerides […] McAdams brings a vividness to the role, her character serving as a much needed flash of energy to offset the others’ malaise.”
Benjamin Secher, The Telegraph

“The performances from these three — Farrell, McAdams and Kitsch — are strong enough in the first few episodes to potentially become as compelling as the work McConaughey and Harrelson did in Season 1.”
Hank Stuever, Washington Post

4/5 stars
“And as uniformly excellent as the cast turns out to be, maybe none of them have that unique Matthew McConaughey-ness to deliver such ramblings? All of this seems like a damning indictment, yet the new True Detective is moody, brutal, intense, daring and addictive. But when placed up against near-perfection, it was always on a hiding to nothing.”
Brian Donaldson, The List

“But after watching the first three episodes, I can safely say I’m in. There are some things that worry me a bit, sure. I watched all three episodes in a 24-hour span, and it might feel like it’s moving a little slow in one-hour increments spaced a week apart […] But is it good? Yeah, it’s good so far. If it all lands, it could really be something. And if it doesn’t, it could really get messy. Either way, it’s definitely worth watching.”
Danger Guerrero, Uproxx

“But Pizzolatto is a master at writing dialogue for actors in cars, where the close quarters make the deep thoughts feel natural. A long scene of Velcoro and Bezzerides driving, trying to get a handle on each other, is a stand out of the first three episodes, even if neither is quite the philosopher Rust Cohle was.”
Willa Paskin, Slate

“McAdams benefits most from the association. Tougher than we’ve seen in the past (and capable of some very strong acting choices), she has to deal with assorted characters (including David Morse, who shakes up his own screen reputation as her guru dad) and a system that seems headed to defeat her. She’s feisty and feral, just ready to take on the problems of Nic Pizzolatto’s story.”
Bruce R. Miller, Sioux City Journal

“These are all excellent actors, most of them trying to push themselves out of their comfort zone in the same way McConaughey and Harrelson did, but with more mixed results. McAdams does very well at displaying a sharper edge than she usually gets to employ.”
Alan Sepinwall, Hit Fix

“The actors are good, and their performances are particularly noteworthy because they are cast so far against type. McAdams built her career as the spunky, adorable girl next door, but Ani is an angry loner with secrets and a half-grown-out dye job.”
Alessandra Stanley, New York Times

3 stars
“However, separating True Detective’s second season from its first affords it better standing. It is a stylish cop drama with a great cast. McAdams, though, is shrewd and capable, lecturing Farrell’s character Ray Velcoro.”
Allison Keene, Collider

4/5 stars
“This season seems much more conventional and straightforward from a crime-solving standpoint, with just the right amount of weirdness thrown in to keep things interesting, fresh and true to the franchise.”
Lori Rackl, TV Trippin

“McAdams seems equally thrilled to be given a chance to play on the dark side of the street. At first it’s a tough sell, buying this petite blonde as a knife-packing murder police. But she gradually won me over with her toughness and commitment.”
Andy Greenwald, Grantland

“First, each of the lead actors is doing superb work: Farrell, McAdams, and Kitsch find distinctive ways of expressing their troubled pasts and difficult present-day situations. McAdams has the show’s most tricky role. It seems written in direct response to the chief criticism in some quarters about True Detective’s debut season — that it lacked strong female characters. Pizzolatto constructed Ani Bezzerides as an almost over-the-top cop, armed and ready to blow at the merest hint of either a broken law or a sexist comment, but McAdams keeps her grounded in a more sensible reality.”
Ken Tucker, Yahoo!

“Kitsch and McAdams prove more stoic but are solid in quieter performances. It may be impossible for it to strike TV lightning twice, but “True Detective” in its second iteration definitely has a charge.”
Sarah Rodman, Boston Globe

“It is a rock-solid crime drama with film caliber production values, intriguing plotting and great performances. The piece is well-cast all around, particularly McAdams, whose philosophical weariness feels the most rooted in character detail.”
Brian Tallerico, Roger Ebert

4/5 stars
“It should come as no surprise that Farrell is magnetically watchable; this role is right in his wheelhouse. But the edgier-than-usual portrayal from McAdams, who usually goes for perky and lovable, is a revelation. And Kitsch’s angst-ridden presence is sure to move him into the big leagues. When the next batch of Emmy nominations is doled out, Vaughn and McAdams are almost certain to be named.”
David Martindale, DFW.com

“McAdams has been on her own acting tear of late, appearing in Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man, and Jake Gyllenhaal in this summer’s Southpaw, and here caps it all with her karate-black-belt honey, carving up boxing dummies as if in revenge for being posed as Love Object Number One for dewy-eyed romcom Romeos all these years. Her full name is Antigone, as in Sophocles.”
Tom Shone, Vogue

“McAdams is the real powerhouse here in a startling performance of sheer steel and raw wounds. The actresses magnetizing performance should force her generation of actresses to step up their game. And wallow everyone doubts how decisive a well written role for a strong female lead is in the right hands.”
Dominic Patten, Deadline

“The strength of the show is in the acting—by Mr. Farrell, who’s obsessive and volatile, and Ms. McAdams, who’s latently ferocious.”
John Anderson, Wall Street Journal

“McAdams is ferocious. Farrell, reeking of desperation and disappointment, is also doing stellar work (though his droopy mustache does half the work for him). Vaughn, unfortunately, is tasked with most of Pizzolatto’s signature pseudo-philosophizing, and his rat-a-tat-tat cadences don’t mesh well with the writer’s grand rhetorical style. (He does convey blank-eyed menace well.)”
Vicki Hyman, Newark Star-Ledger

“Rachel McAdams lights up the early episodes of the returned ‘True Detective,’ but something has changed. Ani, however, is something to watch from the get-go. McAdams is such a luminescent performer that she expands the claustrophobic nature of noir, flashing on its edges and furniture in a way that makes the returning dark seem both more and less dangerous. Pizzolatto has also given her a wonderfully insane back story”
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

“It’s up to Rachel McAdams to be lead detective, then, and it’s a good choice. She’s brainy and tough, and Pizzolotto has her address the fact that as another way too physically slight woman to be in the business, she protects herself with all manner of knives and firearms”
Roger Catlin, RogerCatlin.com

“If there’s anyone with any chance of enjoying a McConaughaissance here it’s probably McAdams – an actor whose characters are more usually associated with the death of the romcom than murders involving people with eyes burned out by acid. Here, her Ani is a convincing mess.”
Richard Vine, The Guardian