"The Night Of" Limited Series Review
In this HBO exclusive limited series, we are introduced to Riz Ahmed playing the lead role of Nasir ‘Naz’ Khan. This young man is a student who just wants to go to a party with his buddy. He basically steals his Father’s cab which is co-owned with several partners. While on his way to the party, he is approached by a young woman who thinks he’s an active cab. Over the course of the night, things go from calm and curious, to drunk and dangerous, to unconscious and dead.
When I watched the first few episodes, it was bordering on terribly uncomfortable. I felt really terrible for this kid because I didn’t believe that he did anything, that he was set up. But yet he was making all of these really stupid decisions and I thought for sure that it wasn’t going to get good for him in any way, shape or form.
Naz gets arrested and is introduced to Jack Stone, played by living legend John Turturro. This eczema suffering, highly cat allergic, not terribly well respected New York attorney is fairly pivotal in Naz's future. Jack can see that something isn't right with this situation and at first, treats it like he would any case. But then after digging into it and talking with Naz, he realizes that something isn't right here.
The lead investigator on the case is Detective Dennis Box, played by Bill Camp. This man is a stoic investigator who has had hesitation about this case from the get-go. The problem was that he is so close to retirement, that he didn't really want to invest a lot of time into it. However, as time goes on, his conscious gets the better of him and he ends up investing much more time into it and eventually learns a lot for his efforts. The thing that kept leaving me confused about his motivation was why investigate the possibility of the truth without stepping up and saying so. Especially in the beginning, he specifically made choices that led to the prosecution of Naz, but would then back peddle a little bit due to uncertainty. This often led me to yell at the screen hoping his character would listen and make different choices.
"The Night Of" Trailer
While Naz is waiting for his fate to unfold, he is held at Riker's Island and meets Freddy. Michael Williams plays Freddy, the resident criminal kingpin who has a very high position within the prison, even having sway over the guards. Naz becomes Freddy's little buddy and the two develop a somewhat odd friendship.
Paul Sparks plays Don Taylor, the step-father of the girl that Naz is accused of killing. I first saw him in House of Cards, he has a very mellow way about him while exuding a focused sense of intensity; fascinates me a little bit. He is a person of some interest thanks to the efforts of Jack Stone. There are some inconsistencies in his motives and story, and he just seems like a questionable kind of guy anyhow.
The last breakout star for me was Amara Karan who played Chandra Kapoor, a rookie attorney who is assigned the case when a larger firm pushes out Jack Stone as Naz’s legal council. This whole switch-a-roo of legal counsel was really unfortunate for Naz, however with the way it unfolded, it was probably the best for him. There are some situations which arise with Chandra and Naz which lead to complications later, which ultimately leads to Jack being able to save the day.
At this point, any more that I could discuss would start to lead towards spoiler level and I really am not a fan of doing that. The reason I’m even writing about this is exclusively because of Riz Ahmed. I have never seen him before now and at first, I didn’t like his acting nor his character. He came across as this overly simple yet well educated young man who is fed up with racial profiling while truly being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is human and accordingly makes a handful of very poor, panic fueled decisions which ultimately lead to his arrest and indictment for this murder. But, as the character grows and develops throughout the life of this limited series, it’s the evolution of the character that fascinated and interested me so much. He goes from this mild mannered college kid to this semi-hardened, tattooed, drug doing thug over the course of perhaps several weeks (the timeline is a little bit hard to follow). Watching the development of the character and how Riz portrayed it honestly made the entire thing well worth it.
It’s not often that I watch something and my attitude towards a main character ebbs and flows as much and as extremely as it did with The Night Of. If you have or get HBO, I highly suggest catching this on HBOGo, it was very good and I think you will greatly enjoy it.