January 26, 2024

SPECIAL OPS: LIONESS Would Be Better As A Movie

2023 / 350 min (8 episodes)
Review by Pepper the Poopy😼

I’ll say this much…Special Ops: Lioness has a great cast consisting of both familiar and lesser-known actors. It should be noted, however, that many of the names featured on the cover aren’t in the show nearly as much as their billing suggests. Morgan Freeman doesn’t even pop up until episode six and his entire role is a glorified cameo.

For most of these eight episodes, the focus is on two characters. The first, Joe (Zoe Saldana), is the leader of Lioness, a covert CIA team that engages in dangerous anti-terrorist missions. Since their methods are often morally questionable, if not downright illegal, she answers to no one except Kaitlyn Meade (Nicole Kidman). She also has a tumultuous relationship with her teenage daughter, largely because work keeps her away for months at a time. The other major character is Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira), a tough, smart, resilient young woman recruited to the team for an especially volatile mission: befriend the daughter of an elusive, terrorist-funding oil baron to gain intel…or maybe kill him herself.

It's a fixer-upper, but the price was right.
But what might have made a pretty killer two-hour movie is a mixed bag as a series. The segments focusing on the actual Lionness team are a lot of fun. As opposed to Joe’s cold, calculated efficiency, they’re a likable, amusing batch of badasses and the subplots featuring these guys are the best parts of the show…especially a “botched” extraction mission in Texas that results in a big body count and unwanted attention from Washington bigwigs. These scenes boast a lot of flashy, violent action. 

Unfortunately, the primary story plods along with endless scenes of Cruz getting close (in more ways than one) to the baron’s daughter, Aaliyah (Stephanie Nur). Partying, hanging out on the beach, clubbing, shopping in expensive stores, kanoodling…a lot of this plays like some MTV reality show featuring people most of us could never actually relate to (perhaps because this is an MTV production?). Too bad, really, because it’s a waste of the most interesting character, Cruz (whose own backstory would make a pretty great series itself). Not only that, we don’t even meet the primary antagonist until the last episode.

However, that last episode is tension-filled and exciting (if somewhat predictable). It also provides closure without leaving any of the major story threads open, which is a good thing since, as of this writing, a second season has not yet been confirmed. If not quite binge-worthy, Special Ops: Lioness is watchable, but might have been more effective as a movie with the excess fat trimmed away.


BEHIND THE STORY - Individual mini docs for every episode, each running about 7-8 minutes.

FEATURETTES - Embedded with Special Ops: Lioness; Battle Forged Calm: Tactics & Training (a segment on weapons and physical training for the actors); Inside the Series (hosted by co-star LaMonica Garrett, this is another doc with interviews and on-set footage).

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