Sweet Christmas! Harlem’s favorite bulletproof hero has returned to Netflix. After the lackluster premieres of Jessica Jones season two and The Defenders miniseries, Luke Cage brings back the quality that attracted fans to Marvel Netflix in the first place.
This time the show avoids the mistakes from its previous season and delivers an entertaining show, with its own unique vibe. Cage gives viewers a realistic look at the life of a bulletproof black man, while exploring black male masculinity and family trauma.
Though, while it’s certainly better than season one, the show still leaves something to be desired.
Harlem’s Newest Celebrity
We pick up with Luke (Mike Colter) trying to balance his newfound fame with protecting the citizens of Harlem. He wants to keep his community safe, but he does not know exactly how to accomplish that goal.
As Luke struggles to keep Harlem a safe place, the mysterious Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) emerges with a plan to take over the neighborhood and bring down Mariah Dillard (Alfie Woodard). Luke must contend with both of them, while attempting to keep the casualty count of their war to a minimum.
Performance-wise, Luke Cage season two hits all the right notes. Mike Colter shines as Cage throughout the show. His performance has improved drastically from last season.
Colter presents a newfound charisma and depth. He no longer feels like an actor just reciting lines for a paycheck. He seems to have finally grown into his role as Cage.
Simone Missick returns as Misty Knight, showing off her captivating charm that’s as much of a highlight this season as it was in the last. Alfie Woodard does the same in her role as Mariah Dillard. In fact, Woodard proves that she is the best actor on the show, continuing to make the audience fall in love with a character that they should hate.
Shakir gives a strong performance as Bushmaster. Although, as a character, Bushmaster does not really stand out much. But it’s Shakir’s presence and acting talent that makes him memorable. He manages to transform a flat character into a villain that strikes a chord with viewers.
Ups & Downs
Another high point of the show is the action. Luke Cage is not a show that’s heavily influenced by martial arts, like Daredevil or Iron Fist. But the fight choreography is extremely crisp. While there are a few moments where a punch or a kick will appear sloppy, there are many more movements that are seamless and smooth.
These scenes are creative too — often using the environment to create heart-pounding sequences. Between the fluidity of the fights and the imaginative ways that the surroundings are used, Luke Cage delivers top-tier action.
The story, on the other hand, is both the high and low point of the show. Overall, the plot is compelling, and it has many real-world applications. However, the pacing is inconsistent and at times makes the show difficult to follow.
Luke Cage never really seems to find its stride. Due to this, the story, at times, feels rushed and choppy. Also, at multiple points in the show, character development feels forced.
In these moments, it seems like these characters are simply reacting for the sake of drama, and it takes away from the story.
Overall, Luke Cage season two falls just short of 5 stars. While it’s certainly enjoyable, and much better than the first season, there are still areas that the creators need to improve upon.
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