“True Detective”: The Complete Second Season is definitely a step down from its predecessor, however, for all of its faults from a needlessly complicated storyline, substandard writing and too many characters (main ones anyway), I still found this season fairly entertaining due to the performances by Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and yes, even Vince Vaughn.
“True Detective”: The Complete Second Season
Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Thriller
Warner Home Video | TVMA – 503 min. – $59.99 | January 5, 2016
Date Published: 12/29/2015 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Season Plot Synopsis: Highway Patrol motorcycle officer Paul Woodrugh (TAYLOR KITSCH) – on suspension after being accused of soliciting sex from a woman he pulled over – in which the victim’s body has been ritually mutilated. The crime triggers an investigation that brings together Detective Ray Velcoro (COLIN FARRELL) from the fictional city of Vinci where the victim served as the city manager and Division Sergeant Ani Bezzerides (RACHEL MCADAMS) from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. Also involved is shady businessman Frank Semyon (VINCE VAUGHN) who was in business with the city manager in a major land deal and discovers his $7 million investment is missing.
In all of these characters’ lives, there is trouble on the home front. Velcoro is divorced, has a heavy alcohol problem and is haunted by a past in which he murdered the man who had raped his then wife and is in debt with Semyon who passed along the identity of the rapist; Semyon and his wife, Jordan (KELLY REILLY), are unable to conceive a child and at the same time, he’s in financial trouble; Woodrugh’s past in the Army, is distant from his girlfriend and, when he found the body, seemed to be a suicide ride on his bike; Ani family situation is messed up with no long-term relationship, a sister in the prostitution game and a spiritualist/hippie father (DAVID MORSE).
Review (Spoilers): I think “True Detective”: Season Two is a victim of the first season’s wild success and its lackluster reception is understandable, but taking it out of the shadow of its predecessor, I actually didn’t think it was half bad. Now, the story isn’t as gripping and it takes more than a few cues from the likes Chinatown but I found most of the characters to be fascinating and made the slower moments still entertaining, in a dark, gritty kind of way.
The highlights of this season easily reside with Colin Farrell and to a larger extent, Vince Vaughn who to me was deserving of more praise and I’m not even a fan of his and his, and that of Kelly Reilly, story wasn’t too bad. Rachel McAdams has her moments and it did take some time to warm up to her character but by the end you still cared about her well-being. I don’t think McAdams gives an amazing performance but she holds her own and, to be fair, I’ve been a big fan of hers for many years so I am biased.
If there was one expendable person, it would be Taylor Kitsch and although his performance is perfectly fine, the character doesn’t have that much to offer in comparison with Farrell and McAdams (on the law side) and it felt like his scenes were unnecessary, more filler than anything. Heck I found the conflict between Frank and his henchman Blake (played by Christopher James Baker) to be far more interesting than Woodrugh’s relationship with his girlfriend and mother (Lolita Davidson).
Returning to write is Nic Pizzolatto and if there’s something I can agree with the series’ detractors is that the writing isn’t nearly as strong and in fact the show heavily relies on the performances from its talented cast, some decent photography work by DP Nigel Buck, giving a vastly different aesthetic versus season one, which was far more Southern Gothic while this is as dark and dirty as the corrupt city officials that are at the center of the plot, though even there, the show was inconsistent as there were no less than 6 who took the director’s chair versus season one which had only Cary Joji Fukunaga, though Justin Lin started things well on the first two episodes.
Also, admittedly, as much as I enjoyed season two, the writing has taken a step down and the season-long storyline is far too complex or, depending on your viewpoint, convoluted. As I said before, remove Kitsch’s Woodrugh character, and it could’ve been a tighter season. However, I’m not going to pretend the first season wasn’t without its own pacing or writing issues as there was a fair chunk in the middle which meandered and relied more on red herrings, but with two award-worthy performances by McConaughey and Harrelson (who served as honorary executive producers), masked many of the issues which were far more glaring this go around.
In the end, while “True Detective”: Season Two had its flaws and maybe Pizzolatto should’ve included new blood writing-wise, not to mention more consistency with its directors. But with all that, I still found this season fairly enjoyable warts and all thanks in large part to Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
The 3-disc set comes housed in a foldout digipak which tucks inside a sturdy outer case.
‘Down Will Come’ – Series Creator/Executive Producer/Writer Nic Pizzolatto and Actors Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams
‘Omega Station’ – Nic Pizzolatto, Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Executive Producer Scott Stephens
One would think with so many participants, there would be a plethora of information dispensed but there seemed to be far more dead air than actual talking. It would appear if Pizzolatto himself wouldn’t steer the conversation, perhaps a moderator would’ve been beneficial.
Making ‘The Vinci Massacre’ (29:28) – This takes viewers behind-the-scenes on the big shootout at the end of the episode, ‘Down Will Come’. It’s a nice featurette which goes in-depth on how the scene was conceived and shot.
A Look Inside “True Detective” (10:16) is another behind-the-scenes featurette on the overall series and include interviews with the cast and crew talking about the story and characters.
True Detective’s California (3:56) is a compilation of footage over various areas of California; it’s the same stuff seen throughout the season.
VIDEO – 4.5/5 | AUDIO – 4.5/5
|“True Detective” is presented in its original televised anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and looks great, one of the better transfers for DVD. Colors are well balanced and there were no major instances of artifacts or aliasing.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is rather strong from the opening credits through each episode be it either the quieter, dialogue-driven scenes to the action-oriented sequences such as the shootout scene in the fourth episode. It’s a nice track that will impress most.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
|Overall, “True Detective”: The Complete Second Season is definitely a step down from its predecessor, however, for all of its faults from a needlessly complicated storyline, substandard writing and too many characters (main ones anyway), I still found this season fairly entertaining due to the performances by Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and yes, even Vince Vaughn. This DVD release by Warner is decent enough with great video and audio transfers and a respectable amount of bonus material.