NBC this Thursday at 10/9c dealt its third new drama of the fall, The Player. Will the Las Vegas-set thriller take your money?
The Player stars Philip Winchester (Strike Back) as Alex Kane, a G-man turned Vegas security expert who is recruited by the calm ‘n’ cool Mr. Johnson aka The Pit Boss (played with great flair by Wesley Snipes) and his colleague Cassandra aka The Dealer (Charity Wakefield) to stop predicted crimes, while the world’s ridiculously wealthy wager on the outcome.
Nudging Alex to take this gig as “The Player” is the chance to avenge the death of his ex-wife Ginny (recurring player Daisy Betts), who was (seemingly?) murdered during a home invasion after Alex proved to be a wrench in the works for a visiting dignitary’s would-be kidnappers.
As Cassandra explained, the infrastructure for the “game” was set up decades ago, and continually upgraded as personal surveillance became more and more intrusive. Now, the system is able to predict crime, while those who are so rich they have lost interest in more mundane gaming wager on the outcome. Alex is at first understandably skeptical of the gamut he has been caught up in, but Cassandra and her impressive, high-tech resources soon enough prove to me indisputable.
Alex then wrestles with the morality of it all, “wagering on crime,” but a couple of factors nudge him into signing on for the “lifetime appointment” as The Player. For one, Cassandra notes, the next Player might not care as much about a sheik’s daughter being abducted or killed. Secondly, as Alex realizes during a visit to the morgue, all may not be as it seems when it comes to his wife Ginny’s murder, seeing as the corpse he visits is missing her ring finger tattoo….
That suspicion is all but confirmed for us, the audience, in the final scenes, where 1) a look of concern washes over Cassandra’s face after Alex warns that he will take down those who took his wife from him, and 2) we eavesdrop as Cassandra deletes old photos of Ginny doing a doctor’s good work overseas… with the blonde Brit at her side!
Winchester is having a lot more fun here than his Strike Back partner Sullivan Stapleton over on NBC’s Blindspot, and he’s well suited for this primetime action hero role. Whatever you may think about Snipes’ filmography, he’s highly entertaining to watch as the confident Mr. Johnson. (It’s the little things, like how he mimics that one cop’s stance toward the end.) And though I was undecided about Wakefield at first blush, upon my third viewing I warmed up to her — as much as anyone can warm up to her thus far icy-ish Dealer.