Amazon Pilot for ‘Edge’ Takes Us Back in the Best Way

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By Karen Valenzuela, @VictoriaNoir89

Shane Black is king of the throwback to 1980s action flicks. His recent foray into the world of the Western with Amazon’s Edge only solidifies his title. Edge’s pilot, which went up on Amazon on Thursday for free, uninterrupted viewing, is just as campy and just as fun—from the titular character, played by growly, rugged, hulking bad ass Max Martini, to the amazing gun fight that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Many fans of the Westerns of old might not enjoy this particularly rough take on the genre, but I’ve been hungry for a good Western ever since AMC’s Hell on Wheels lost my interest at the end of its second season. And Quentin Tarantino can only make so many movies, right?

Edge meets every single one of my Western fan requirements, and even exceeds a few. It starts with the grisly murder of the little brother of Josiah Hedges (Martini) because of a card game. That’s right, a card game. In Westerns, it doesn’t take much to provoke murder. You look at a man’s horse funny and you get strung up in front of the whole town…so they kind make an example of you.

Hedges, whose name is mispronounced as “Edge” enough that it becomes his title, goes in search of the bastards who did his brother in, vowing to pick them off one by one, or all at once, however he has to do it. He ends up in Seward, Kansas. The first welcome he gets is by the town’s sign, on which someone has scrawled “Hate” in big red daunting letters. Edge, being the bad ass that he is, just smirks and chuckles. And he rides right on in.

One of the most fascinating pieces of Edge so far is its main character. In spite of being a feller who goes around starting crap with deputies and freeing hanging men for laughs, Edge is incredibly dangerous. The kind of man you want on your team because that means he’d not on the other team. Which is why “Big Bill” Seward, sheriff in town played by a fantastic William Sadler, immediately offers Edge a job as deputy lawman…because Edge has just killed the last one.

Death, blood, limbs being shot off, a lot of sweat and dirt, corny dialogue, and men who’ve got egos the size of the Wild West itself: this is the Western genre at its best. And it has some fascinating female characters right off the bat, something a lot of Westerns of old did not have. I’m looking at you spaghetti Westerns. The first one we meet is an unnamed woman who climbs up from underneath a wagon, grease staining her hands. When he offers her a hand, she comes back with a, “Thanks. I can grease my own axel.” Oh, yes she can.

This marks Australian Nerd Machine friend and fan favorite Yvonne Strahovski’s stunning entrance into the scene. She plays a character whose femininity isn’t lessened by the gutsy way she talks to Edge, nor by the simultaneous life-weary and vibrant look in her face. There’s definitely more to her than meets the eye; for instance, why is a prostitute carrying a Pinkerton badge? Maybe because she’s a Pinkerton agent! Beth is no wilting flower. She’s powerful. She’s crass, smart, level-headed, and she speaks with a slow, deep, gravely calm no matter what situation she’s in, which most likely means she’s seen some nasty stuff in her time and fully expects to see more. She meets Edge’s macho sarcasm with some unimpressed sarcasm of her own.

Edge pilot review TNM PIC 1
Edge is having to hold his innards in, but who cares when he’s looking at sunshine personified?

And then there’s Pilar (played by Alicja Bachleda), wife of Sheriff Big Bill Seward’s son, aptly named Little Bill. Pilar sneaks into the bar at night to get unsuspecting newcomers in town to buy her a drink, since everyone else knows full well they’ll be in big trouble if they go anywhere near her. The woman knows how to get what she wants, but she immediately seems like someone Edge is going to want to avoid.

If you aren’t a fan of violence, Edge might not be for you. The bloodshed is unapologetic, and Edge himself doesn’t shy away from killing. I lost count of how many bodies he left in his wake, and this is only the pilot, you guys.

The best part of the entire episode is the filthy, campy deliciously entertaining shoot-out between Edge and basically…everyone else. It starts out with a bang—literally. He tosses a few lit sticks of dynamite into the middle of the face-off between his nemesis and Big Bill. Dirt rains down on everyone, and a burning wagon wheel even flies through a saloon’s window. As they all climb to their feet, waiting as the dust clears, a scarecrow slowly rolls into view. As everyone looks on in confusion, a Gatling gun lifts up from between its legs…and Edge shoots up the entire damn town. The sheriff’s wife, Pilar, even says, “Hijo de puta!” It’s fantastic.

The booby traps our protagonist sets up for his foes make the scene less like an Eastwood shoot-out and more like Home Alone on Wild West crack: fireworks, a man catching fire and running around screaming, guys falling off of roofs, a couple of mercy kills. It’s unrealistic, sure, but it’s also gloriously cheesy! The whole scene is pure Western fun!

And the show doesn’t shy away from the ugly, realist view of life in 1865 small town Kansas. Most of the town’s population looks dirty, drunk, and angry. And none of the main characters seem reluctant to put a bullet in anyone who rubs them the wrong way, the women included. One of the best elements in the show’s portrayal of Edge is in the way the man’s hair seems to be in front of his face most of the time. He makes no effort to fix it or move it out of his face. But it isn’t just that the man is low-maintenance. He simply doesn’t give a damn. Hair in his face, covered in his own blood, flies and horse poop everywhere, dirty, drunk, multiple people holding guns in his face…Nothing fazes this guy.

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Why be tidy when you can be a Grade A bad ass instead?

Including the main perpetrator of his brother’s murder, his old Union comrade, Sergeant Harknett (Ryan Kwanten). Harknett makes for a fantastic villain. He’s smarmy, confident, has virtually no moral compass whatsoever, and, as we see in the epilogue, absolutely no allegiance to anyone but himself. Having a powerful father who’s softened the blows throughout his life has made Harknett cocky. In his mind, he’s untouchable, virtually indestructible. If this series continues, he and Edge will make for a wicked battle of intelligence and guts.

Edge is so filthy and so much fun. And if it gets picked up for a full season, it probably won’t be getting anywhere near the awards podium. But it’s a fantastic addition to the Western genre, and it has a bevy of morally ambiguous characters that I would love to get to know better.

You can catch Edge on Amazon. If Yvonne WILDWESTski, guns, blood, and swearing aren’t enough for you, just remember it’s FREE to watch!

Rating: 4.5/5


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