The Boys is incendiary stuff which manages to shock and entertain in equal measure with Antony Starr once again proving he is one of the best actors working today. Karl Urban and the rest of the cast are also perfect in their respective roles and I can’t wait to see what dark deeds await in season 2.
Plot: Superheroes are often as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians, and sometimes even as revered as gods. But that’s when they’re using their powers for good. What happens when the heroes go rogue and start abusing their powers? When it’s the powerless against the super powerful, the Boys head out on a heroic quest to expose the truth about the Seven and Vought, the multibillion-dollar conglomerate that manages the superheroes and covers up their dirty secrets.
Review: I tried not to but I do go into some mild spoilers here so if you haven’t watched the show yet then I’d maybe hold off reading much further.
Just when you thought the superhero genre had been done to death along come The Boys to give it a whole new lease of life. Shot right here in Toronto The Boys is dark, disturbing and at times utterly hilarious as it dissects our modern culture’s worship of superheroes while essentially asking the question what if the Justice League were assholes behind the scenes?
Season 1 is only 8 episodes long but a lot happens and it is never short of tension and graphic moments. Despite it sometimes being a difficult watch due to some genuinely unpleasant scenes it remains a violent delight with a cast who give their best but the standout has to be Antony Starr (from the classic TV series Banshee) who plays Homelander, a cross between Captain America and Superman except he is unhinged and mostly terrifying with his empty smile and cold heart. You can barely breathe whenever he is on screen as he is an intense and unpredictable force of nature that you feel could just explode in rage at any time reminding me of The Comedian from Watchmen which The Boys feels sort of like in terms of inspiration.
Karl Urban is at his foulmouthed best as The Boy’s leader Billy Butcher who recruits good kid Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) after his girl is accidentally killed by superhero A-Train (Jessie T. Usher). Hughie is as you can imagine devastated by the loss and wants revenge on A-Train who apparently doesn’t seem to care about the girl he killed.
The “supes” as they are known are all controlled by a company called Vaught run by Madelyn Stillwell played by Elizabeth Shue who is wonderfully smug and diabolical seeing everything as an opportunity for profit no matter who they exploit along the way.
At first I thought this was the kind of show where no one is really likeable and didn’t know who to root for but as it goes on we can see that Annie/Starlight (Erin Moriarty) is pure-hearted and just wanted to genuinely save people but we soon discover that being part of “The Seven” isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Hughie starts off as a man with no backbone who takes after his dad (played by the wonderfully sympathetic Simon Pegg) but as he gets in deeper with Butcher and his crew he finds out that he has a penchant for this sort of thing and his life changes forever… maybe not necessarily for the best.
As I said the acting is phenomenal from the cast and the story goes in all kinds of directions with my favourite episode being when Homelander and Queen Maeve “fail” to save a plane from crashing which had my jaw on the floor as it was something I had never seen before. The “supes” really are more like villains in the show and it feels like this is what it would be like if superheroes actually existed.
There is no shortage of action with some brutal fights, hilariously over the top kills and a body count likely in the hundreds so action fans will not be disappointed. It leaves with a helluva cliffhanger too guaranteeing I will be there for season 2 which I believe has already begun production… maybe I could get a set visit seeing at it’s local… hmmm *scratches beard thoughtfully*
Overall, The Boys is subversive stuff with memorable characters, glorious moments of violence and an engaging story that kept me gripped. At times it may go a little too far for some tastes but generally it’s the only superhero TV show worth watching and has the bonus of being primarily aimed for adults.
P.S. I think we should start a drinking game where anytime Karl Urban calls someone a c*nt we have to take a shot. We’ll be passed out before the end of the first episode.