The Player


Honestly, while US Network Television keeps churning out formulaic stuff like this, it will just keep losing viewers to Cable and Streaming.

The whole conceit of The Player is so ludicrous the only way to draw anything from it is to check your brain at the door and wait for the action sequences with its leading man, Phillip Winchester. At least he’s making a fist of it.

Winchester plays Las Vegas security consultant Alex Kane. He’s got all the right moves, the bod, and the matinee-idol looks. He protects the high rollers and dignitaries who can afford his services in a town dripping in chips, bling and excess. Scaling hotel roof-tops, crashing through windows, and smashing heads with champagne bottles, he’s two steps ahead of the baddies, much to the wonder of his clients.

“How do you think like a bad guy without being a bad guy?” they ask.

But his personal life is less perfect. He can’t resist hooking up with his ex-wife (Daisy Betts), which goes well until she is shot by an intruder on his watch. He gives chase through the casinos and streets (in nothing more than his boxer shorts, no less) but is knocked over by a car as the killer escapes.

Inanely, the cops don’t believe his story and are ready to accuse him of murdering his ex-wife, because onlookers don’t recall seeing the man he was chasing. Apparently in this most security-conscious of towns, nobody thought to check CCTV cameras. Seriously.

But Alex has also been inadvertently recruited by a high-class Brit, Cassandra (Charity Wakefield) and her mysterious boss Mr. Johnson (Wesley Snipes). Their secret organisation knows plenty about him, having had him under surveillance for some time. They reveal that they are behind an advance-computer system that can predict crime before it happens. Stay with me…

Drawing upon surveillance cameras, hacking, DNA, and all-things hi-tech, they know the movements of anyone and apparently can predict future crimes. At this point I’m deducing this is what’s generally known as “police chatter.” Quite how it converts into predicted outcomes is never quite explained -but then I’m still waiting for Person of Interest to do the same. With these sorts of shows, you’re just expected to suspend disbelief.

The kicker in this conceit is that the duo are actually orchestrating a giant online gambling ring with silent gamblers betting on the Player’s ability to stop a crime before it happens. It’s Vegas after all.

If you’re still watching by this point then you’re in for some action scenes with Winchester and some pretty awful acting from Charity Wakefield. Wesley Snipes, dressed to the nines in designer threads, contributes too little.

The Player lurches from set piece to set piece without ever demanding much of the viewer. It’s only Winchester’s commitment that saves this from being a complete disaster.

Somebody tell them Robert Urich is on the phone and he wants his Vega$ back.

The Player premieres 9:30pm Wednesday on Seven.


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