Christoph Waltz is a chameleon who disappears behind his characters and sometimes even elevates the material. If you found him fascinating in Inglourious Basterds, you will love him in The Consultant. As Regus Patoff, Waltz plays the antagonist in the series and cranks up the villainy meter to ludicrous degrees. Patoff simply throws the concept of sanity out of the window and gives a sly smile if you come up with insane suggestions like letting an elephant wreak havoc in the streets. Want to receive a pat on the back from him? Let yourself be enchanted by corruption. Come up with questionable ideas and wear sinful skin.
Patoff has a charming, devious smile that compels you to do his bidding (that is if you are not too careful around him). Given that he wields his powers on corporate employees, he doesn't have to do much heavy lifting. Just a gentle push here, a manipulative hint there, and the workers rush for their reward like a dog chasing a stick. For instance, he turns the employees of CompWare, a gaming company, into a bunch of savages by announcing that an office is up for grabs for anyone who "passionately" requires it. Patoff also uses compliments as an exploitation technique. He will tell someone they have done good work or approve someone's pitch, and they would think, "Hey, this Patoff guy is actually nice!" One can read all this as satire. The employees are so underpaid and ill-treated that small praises and wickedly created opportunities galvanize them into taking amoral actions.
The Consultant is a delectable dark comedy. The humor arises from scenes like the one where Craig (Nat Wolff) tests the tensile strength of a glassy surface using animation. But mostly, the laughter emanates from Waltz himself. He expertly exudes a mix of menacing and chucklesome tones that makes you hold your breath in anticipation one moment and causes you to giggle the next. Without Waltz, The Consultant would have been reduced to rubble. Of course, the story is thoroughly engaging and packed with excellent twists and turns. But it would have merely looked interesting on the screen, as it's Waltz who ultimately sucks us into this world. His Patoff is an extremely appealing devil who manages to seduce even a deeply Catholic girl. The power of Christ won't save you from this pure psychopath.
In the opening credits of the show, you notice many bugs. Those creatures obviously allude to Patoff, who comes across like a bug in a (corporate) code that drives the characters into a state of disorder. His two main pawns are Craig and Elaine (Brittany O'Grady). They know their new boss is vicious, so they try to tackle him by keeping an eye on him and finding out more about his past. But sometimes, these two also go with the flow when they get a good remark. Elaine notably embraces corruption and its rewards by doing things like deceiving a coworker to occupy his space in the office. The Consultant is not interested in a good vs. bad narrative. Everyone is dastardly here. The question is this - How bad are you when compared to others?
The Consultant's black humor dips in some places. If Waltz strengthens the tone, O'Grady and Wolff undermine its effect. The two actors appear too serious and can often feel like they have been imported from somewhere else. The actors seem to have been briefed differently, which is why there is a mismatch between them. Apart from commenting on the evil nature of the corporate world, The Consultant asks that old controversial question - Can video games cause violence in the real world? Is it harmful to children? Can killing pixelated figures lead you to commit a crime against humans? To reply to these queries with a yes is to pass a superficial response that doesn't consider other factors like personal upbringing and environmental influence. Yet, the series blames a video game when characters begin to exhibit aggressive behavior.
But one shouldn't watch The Consultant for accuracy and answers. Its strength lies in its simplicity and single-minded objective of keeping the audience captivated. The show has some beautiful Dutch angles that adorn the drama and some absurdist situations (the liberation of an elephant) to keep you entertained. However, when The Consultant ends, you are left scratching your head. Who exactly is Patoff? How did he survive that fall? Is he a magical creature (the Devil himself) or just an ordinary person? How was he able to hypnotize a character and make her work on that typewriter? What's the deal with that nightclub that converts into an ordinary office in the morning? Maybe Bentley Little's book contains lucid answers? After seven enjoyable episodes, The Consultant's finale leaves you considerably underwhelmed.
Final Score- [7/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
Note: All eight episodes are screened for this review.
Premiere Date: February 24, 2023, on Prime Video
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