While HBO receives the lion’s share of press for its original programming, the network’s sister station, Cinemax, has been producing its own library of fresh content that is gritty, exciting and quite addictive. Among the standouts have been Banshee, The Knick and Outcast. Joining the ranks of those shows is Quarry, a period crime series set in Memphis during the early 1970s.
Logan Marshall-Green stars as Mac Conway. He’s a Vietnam veteran who returns home from the war and finds himself shunned by his neighbors. Mac and his best friend, Arthur (Jamie Hector), were accused of war crimes in a Vietnam village. Although acquitted of the charges by the Army, public opinion matters more in their small town and the men have trouble finding work. A stranger who calls himself ”The Broker” (Peter Mullan), approaches Mac with a lucrative opportunity: act as a contract killer for him, continuing the line of work he’s good at doing. Mac flat out refuses the offer.
Soon thereafter, Arthur, strapped for cash and worried about feeding his family, takes the job instead. He asks for Mac’s help on a job. Mac agrees — this one time — just to make sure his friend remains safe. Things go horribly wrong. Arthur is killed, the money goes missing, and the Broker wants his money back. Mac finds himself in a bind: Come up with the missing 30K, or Arthur’s family will suffer for it.
Complicating Max’s already dire circumstances is his discovery that his wife Joni (Jodi Balfour) had an affair while he was at war. This leads to Mac acting impulsive and creating more problems that involve the police and losing Joni’s trust for good.
Based on a series of crime novels written by Max Allan Collins, Quarry was created by Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller (Rectify). The series captures the grime and mugginess of the south and has the tone of some great, lost film noir from the 1970s. Logan-Green portrays Mac as a man wrestling with his conscience and struggling with PTSD. It’s not so much in what he says but how he expresses it that really makes Logan-Green compelling to watch. I must admit that it gets olds watching him suck on the nubs of cigarettes and constantly drenched with sweat, but his performance quickly makes you look past this creative choice.
Balfour is the other winner in this series. Joni is an equal in this series, and her challenges are as vital as Mac’s. Balfour plays her with strength and tenderness. She’s someone you’re rooting for through all of the chaos. The relationship between Mac and Joni has so many ups and downs within the first four episodes that you’re winded by the end of the fourth hour. But that particular episode, ”Seldom Realized” is an excellent hour of TV, no so much crime but pure relationship drama. Damon Herriman, so memorable as Dewey Crowe on Justified, also appears as the conflicted killer, Buddy. He represents the other side, the man you become after killing for money robs you of your soul. Herriman’s portrayal of Buddy is poignant and funny, a standout performance.
Quarry not be mentioned in the same conversation with the wealth of great dramas currently on TV, but given time it could rise to those levels. It far outshines True Detective season two and anything you’ll find on network TV. Like the great film noirs of the 1940s, which were essentially B’ movies, Quarry is a pulp fiction sucks you in and can be very addictive. The show’s minor flaws are easily addressable and hopefully will be should it get a season two.
Quarry is available now for rental or purchase on Digital HD.