Although Cinemax is often passed over in favor of more established networks like HBO and Showtime, the premium cable channel has recently been trending upward. Cinemax is quickly becoming known for its original programming with shows like Clive Owen’s 20th-century medical drama “The Knick” and the explosive action series “Banshee.” The network’s latest endeavor, “Quarry,” continues this trend, promising both intense drama and unnerving action. The eight-episode season premiered Sept. 9 and airs Fridays at 10 p.m.
“Quarry,” based on a series of novels by Max Allan Collins, follows Mac Conway, a Marine who returns home to Memphis after the Vietnam War. After finding himself jobless and vilified by the public for his role in the war, Conway is forced to work as a hitman and becomes entangled in a web of crime and corruption.
“Quarry” boasts great performances from some lesser known actors. Logan Marshall-Green shines as Conway, taking the stereotypical alcoholic veteran archetype and infusing it with genuine rage and mystery.
Actress Jodi Balfour provides a worthy counter to Marshall-Green’s ferocity as Conway’s wife Joni, who has secrets of her own. Actor Damon Herriman brings one of the most enjoyable performances as Buddy, a flamboyant and vicious criminal who takes Conway under his wing.
Although the show does not have any superstars or widely recognized performers, the understated cast ultimately works in the show’s favor. This lack of attention-grabbing performers helps “Quarry” settle into its time period and feel more authentic.
The program’s authenticity is also established with its music, inspired by the soul and blues scene that defined Memphis in the 1970s. The music itself is almost a character in the show but is sometimes too prominent, at the expense of the characters and scenes. While the music is mostly well-placed and enjoyable, “Quarry” should curtail its overreliance on music, focusing instead on expanding its characters and plots to create an intriguing and unique atmosphere.
Unlike the constant stream of action in “Strike Back” and “Banshee,” Cinemax’s newest drama is much more reserved. While this does make the few outbursts in each episode more powerful, it is easy to get lulled or even bored during some of the quieter scenes, especially with the show’s washed-out aesthetic and bleak outlook. In this regard, “Quarry” will probably not be a crowd-pleaser in the same vein as “Game of Thrones” or “Breaking Bad.” Still, the show’s strong characters and compelling premise give the show potential. Overall, “Quarry” is another promising entry into the crime drama genre that adds diversity to Cinemax’s lineup.