CCI: "Human Target" Review

Warner Bros premiered the pilot to the upcoming Fox drama, "Human Target" at Comic-Con International on Wednesday night to a receptive crowd. CBR News was there to catch the latest iteration of Christopher Chance.

The new television series, "Human Target," centers on Christopher Chance, a private detective of sorts, with a particular set of skills. He can blend in, be unknowable, and save people from death threats or a hitman's bullet. The pilot begins in a fashion quite similar to the first Peter Milligan story. Both begin with Chance narrating the various dangers in his line of work and the particular danger in the way he performs his job. After appearing to be a investment CEO, Chance attempt to talk down a would-be assassin and, with no option left, ends up having to shoot him. This sets off the assassin's deadman switch, blowing up the investment headquarters.

Four weeks later, Chance and his partner Winston take on a new case, despite Winston's vocal protestation. The mark this time is an engineer charged with building the new California Super Train. Chance signs on as her interpreter, and keeps a steely eye out for anyone looking to kill her.

The pilot moves at a surprisingly quick pace, and features a pretty unusual fight in a ventilation shaft that is almost realistic. Directed by Simon West of "Con-Air" fame, the bulk of the train action is realized in a pleasingly entertaining manner. The show's shift from a lone gunman to an out of control train occurs naturally and never feels forced.

Chance is played by Mark Valley, and his is not an easy job since Chance has to blend in and essentially be a different person each week. What Valley brings to the role is compitence and a quick wit. Of course, as a series, the Chance character will be given room to develop and become more than the cipher he is introduced as and makes a living being.

Chi McBride appears as Chance's partner, Winston. Much like his performance on "Pushing Dasies," McBride portrays Winston as a no nonsense guy who is constantly befuddled by people who live exclusively in the world of nonsense. It is his stock character, but McBride excels at it and is instantly likeable as the minder to the bizarre people around him.

The standout performance, however, is Jackie Earle Haley as Guerrero. Presented as a reformed wetworks-style mercenary, Haley is always confident, gets the biggest laughs, and is generally the most appealing aspect of the pilot. In fact, his is such a presence, that he actually eclipses the main character. As it's a pilot that was screened for us, it is unclear whether Haley will appear on a reoccurring basis in future episodes. It would be smart to lock him into at least a handful of episodes as he brings a great deal to the pilot episode.

Some pilots are written as an introduction of first chapter to their ongoing tale. Some are made to be a stand-alone example of what the series could be. "Human Target" comfortably sits in the latter category, telling a relatively simple story that will engage some. Hopefully subsequent episodes will introduce an ongoing mystery or arc to make people more interested in Chance's lack of identity and apparent deathwish.

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