African international locations like South Africa, Kenya and Nigera have proven that they’re fertile areas for film manufacturing, and Netflix has reaped the advantages of that. However, till now, the streamer hasn’t had an authentic sequence produced on the continent. Queen Sono is the primary; it’s a South African manufacturing, however shot in numerous international locations on the continent. And, as an alternative of some deep, thinky present, it’s a rollicking spy thriller.
QUEEN SONO: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: “ZANZIBAR” is proven in large letters. After some photographs of the shoreline subsequent to the town, we see an attractive girl strolling alongside a shore highway, sporting an orange jumpsuit and a floppy hat. Some scenes of marketplaces precede a shot of this girl talking into an earpiece.
The Gist: Queen Sono (Pearl Thusi) is a spy for a South African group referred to as the Particular Operations Group; their mission is to enhance the lives of residents in international locations all around the continent. She’s making an attempt to trace down info on arms offers to numerous militant teams, and when she and her technician associate Freddy (Loyiso Madinga) can’t get the recordsdata they want through telephones and laptops, Queen goes “old-fashioned,” making a diversion to seize a thumb drive then utilizing a mix of road smarts and harsh preventing expertise to flee. Oh, and within the course of, she fingers their official automobile over to somebody who helped her escape.
Freddy chides her on the aircraft again to Johannesburg that shedding the automobile is unacceptable, however the intel she will get is even higher than anticipated. Queen’s philosophy is that nobody however the South African president and safety minister know that the company even exists, and he or she’s at all times beneath menace, so she’s going to take benefit whereas she will be able to. Additionally, maybe issues are a bit demanding for her now that the 25th anniversary of her mom’s assassination is arising.
Again at SOG’s headquarters, she’s upbraided by Miri (Chi Mhende), the group’s director common, for her unorthodox strategies, however within the subsequent breath Queen’s childhood pal asks if she might be of any assist as regards to the anniversary and in addition the parole listening to of the person who killed Queen’s mom. “Just a few consistency,” Queen says. “Should you’re going to be a bitch, simply be a bitch! Commit, ?” The SOG’s chief, Dr. Sid (Sechaba Morojele), knew Queen’s mom properly, and typically wonders why he sends her out on missions that may make her mom “reduce of my bloody head.” He’s additionally in search of her psych analysis.
Queen goes to her highschool buddy, William (Khathu Ramabulana), to get it. To him and everybody else in Queen’s life, she’s an artwork dealer, however he doesn’t ask questions when she tells him to print out one more letter giving her a clear invoice of psychological well being. He’s bought a brand new girlfriend, however is reluctant to introduce her to Queen, so she places a tracker on his automobile and follows him to a restaurant so he can simply “run into” William and Nova (Enhle Maphumulo), who simply moved in with him. The 2 girls get alongside famously, although Nova is a bit bemused that this “sizzling” pal that William by no means talked about additionally helped him get by means of medical faculty.
In the meantime, within the Congo, a diamond mine is overtaken by a militia who desires the employees to reap the advantages of their work, just for a “small price” for his or her safety. The chief of that militia, Shandu (Vuyo Dabula) manages to get the employees on his aspect.
Because the parole will get nearer, Queen’s grandmother Mazet (Abigail Kubeka) is certain the person who killed Queen’s mom didn’t act alone. She additionally needs Queen would quiet down and provides her nice grandkids, however Queen is fairly certain that may by no means occur.
Earlier than she’s despatched off on one other mission, Queen will get phrase that her mom’s killer is getting paroled as a result of frail well being. So she sneaks her manner into the jail to confront the person, and his model of the taking pictures doesn’t add up. How does she know? As a result of she was there, and though she was a toddler, she remembers it vividly.
Our Take: Created by Kagiso Lediga, Queen Sono is Netflix’s first authentic sequence from Africa (South Africa, to be actual, however taking pictures areas have been all around the continent). The truth that the primary present from that area isn’t some kind of heavy drama however a rollicking spy thriller is attention-grabbing, if solely as a result of it dovetails with Netflix’s need to search out broad audiences for its worldwide exhibits. So as an alternative of some thinky dirge of a present, there’s plenty of chases, some hints of humor, and intrigue galore.
A lot of what’s pleasant concerning the present stems from Peal Thusi’s lead efficiency. She totally embodies Queen’s loyal however rebellious spirit. She’s not a mercenary by any means; she believes within the mission her mom died for. However she’s going to do it her manner, and he or she doesn’t care who she pisses off. She will get wistful on occasion about misplaced relationships and the transitory nature of her life, however she additionally is aware of if she stays in a single place for a very long time, she’ll be in additional hazard. It’s robust to stability all of this whereas additionally wanting cool driving a folding bike to work in high-heeled boots, and Thusi deftly handles all of Queen’s multitudes.
The storyline of Queen attending to the underside of her mom’s homicide can be an excellent through-line for the season; we all know that the spy part can even be a unbroken story, however the most effective spy tales stability what an agent is coping with within the area together with what’s happening in his or her private life. Will Queen get distracted by pursuing her mom’s killers? Or will all of it tie collectively?
Intercourse and Pores and skin: Queen sees a video of a former boyfriend singing in mattress along with her, however that’s about it.
Parting Shot: Queen speculates that the person who was being paroled wasn’t even there the day her mom was killed. “Who’re you?” he asks. “I’m Queen Sono,” she says as we see a flashback of her as a woman, proper after her mom was killed.
Sleeper Star: The placement photographs are the sleeper stars right here. Zanzibar’s winding alleys, “Joburg”‘s glossy downtown (together with the most effective residence we’ve ever seen a TV spy dwell in), and the purple clay diamond mines that have been seemingly shot in both Nigeria or Kenya.
Most Pilot-y Line: A number of the dialogue sounded prefer it was looped in post-production, in scenes that shouldn’t have had a ton of background noise. It’s noticeable and makes us marvel if it was a dialogue change or simply poor sound design.
Our Name: STREAM IT. Queen Sono is a enjoyable spy thriller that isn’t making an attempt to reply too many questions on the which means of life, which is typically precisely what you want.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about meals, leisure, parenting and tech, however he doesn’t child himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared within the New York Instances, Slate, Salon, , , Quick , , Billboard and elsewhere.