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Sugar (2024) (Apple+)

The name's Sugar, John Sugar. Apple's latest eight-part mystery thriller stars Colin Farrell as the notorious titular private detective working in Los Angeles, tasked with finding the missing daughter of a powerful Hollywood film-making mogul.

My initial fear was that this was going to be a little too noir for my liking, a genre I'm not remotely fond of, truth be told, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Of course, he's a private detective, so there is a fair share of gumshoe sleuthing involved, but much of this is in broad daylight and always in a sharp suit.

Sugar is very good at what he does, allegedly, by his own volition, but you begin to wonder a few episodes in that maybe his investigations are maybe just a bit too easy. It all smells a little convenient and his seemingly patient work seems to come to fruition all too often.

By conventional necessity, Sugar is only as human as his frailties, just so we can relate to him, so he is just as broken as required and the story is lightly touched by his own personal story from time to time, but never so much as to make him appear weak. He loves movies, possibly a reason for what he does for a living. It is mentioned that movies ruin us all, making us believe that what they show is what real life is like when you're young enough to believe it, only to be emotionally ruined when the realisation happens that it is nothing more than fantasy.

Despite his inevitable weaknesses, you can't be left in too much doubt that despite his somewhat ugly profession, involving the underbelly of society and dispensing pain where necessary, he is indeed a good man, amplified by his seemingly unconnected acts of kindness, not to mention his clear love of animals.

Farrell narrates when the opportunity allows, much like the noir of the Hollywood golden age, but simply paying attention to the pictures really makes the need to for the somewhat obvious mutterings something of a moot point.

The whole cast is very strong and the premise is simple, yet plumped up by the characters own stories that he runs into while carrying out his job, some more nefarious than others. The simple story makes it easy enough to follow and if anything, drags on longer than the eight episodes afforded to it. It's sleek and stylish whilst remaining understated. As a standalone IP from Apple, this was an enjoyable watch, albeit unchallenging and really lacking any real story-telling innovation.


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