New series Queen Sono fails to take off
Queen Sono opens on a high note with a visually thrilling shot of leading lady Pearl Thusi strolling across scenic Zanzibar.
It's like a frame taken out of a James Bond film with Thusi as a femme fatale Bond girl, but only she's calling the shots - she's 007 with a 'fro.
While the scene raises expectations, it fails to take off. That's the problem with Netflix's first original series in Africa with Kagiso Lediga as show-runner; it gets in its own way too often.
Queen Sono exercises restraints in places it should flourish and show off.
It is beautifully captured and holds its own visually against the best espionage dramas of this era such as Homeland, Quantico and The Americans.
The premise of the show focuses on the fictional South African Agency (SOG) with Thusi, Chiedze Mhende, Loyiso Madinga, and Rob van Vuuren as top spy agents.
Queen Sono (Thusi) is haunted by the assassination of her mother - a freedom-fighting Winnie Madikizela-Mandela archetype character - 25 years after it happened.
Her life is further complicated by her on-and-off romance with Shandu (Vuyo Dabula), whose life has taken a dark turn.
For a spy thriller, there is too much dialogue in Queen Sono and not enough palpitating action at times.
The action sequence, editing and directing are far more exciting and pacy in episodes helmed by Tebogo Malope (3, 4 and 5) than those spearheaded by Lediga (1 and 2).
Queen Sono wait far too long before it can hook you and it starts taking off in episode three - called "The Devil's Toy". The plot in episode one and two is cluttered and the visual structure lacks cohesion.
James Ngcobo steals every scene he's in as a cowardly, greedy and corrupt politician - pity he gets limited screen time.
Even if you have never travelled to African countries such as Kenya, Congo and Nigeria the way the show is filmed in various locations is refreshing and you do escape into that world.
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