Leverage fans were disappointed to see the original series end back in 2012, especially because a sixth season had been up in the air for a while before the network decided not to pursue a new season. Over the years, the love for the original series has only grown, and fans got a welcome surprise with the announcement that a revival was heading to IMDb TV in the form of Leverage: Redemption. The show welcomes back most of the original cast and a few fresh faces while bringing new elements to the always-addictive premise, and any fears of the show losing its magic are quickly put to rest, as the cast and chemistry feel as effortless and charming as ever, delivering a revival longtime fans will adore.
The original Leverage thrived on the chemistry of its cast and the Robin Hood-esque heists the team would undertake in every episode. For those unfamiliar, Leverage focuses on a team of skilled individuals that help their clients fight the many powerful and corrupt evils out in the world. Much of the team has been on the other side of this equation in the past, and this is a way to not only make amends but also put their unique skills to good use and screw over some bad people at the same time. Each member of the team has their own skillset, and much of that has been retained in Redemption. Gina Bellman's Sophie is the grifter, Christian Kane's Eliot is the hitter, Beth Riesgraf's Parker is the thief, and Aldis Hodge's Alec is the hacker. They all reprise their roles and bring their specialties back into the mix, but from the first episode, a few changes are quickly apparent. The series begins with the one-year anniversary of Nathan Ford's death, and that creates a space for Noah Wyle's Harry Wilson, though the two characters are not remotely the same.
The other fresh face is Aleyse Shannon, who plays Hardison's younger sister Breanna, and the two of them on-screen together are simply delightful, including one exchange during her introduction that left me rolling (#DoesNanaKnowYoureHere). Breanna brings such genuine enthusiasm and energy to the role, and that energy is a perfect contrast to the well-oiled machine that this team has become. More than that, it opens up a wealth of opportunities for the team to play in and out of their characters' comfort zones and provides a window into who these people were when we last left them and who they've become in the years since.
Brianna also provides a younger outlook, but thankfully not through the typical "parents just don't understand" lens. For instance, a conversation between Brianna and Parker starts with the usual beats of Parker not wanting to expose Brianna to a more dangerous world, but Brianna's response puts it all into much-needed perspective. "Parker, my first memory is of 9/11. I've lived through endless war, two economic collapses, and the return of actual nazis," Brianna says. "So this 'worst world ever' thing you see, is the only world I've ever known. I'm not scared."
If there was a mic, she would have dropped it.
On the other side of things, we have Wyle's character Harry, who the show's mission is built around. Harry's a lawyer who made his career working for corrupt businessmen, and after witnessing the horror of what he's enabling, decides to try and help the families he helped screw over. Wyle's natural charisma and humor is a lovely complement to the rest of the team, but he brings so much more. His lack of experience in pulling jobs allows memorable exchanges with Parker and Sophie, while his guilt and internal conflicts initiate powerful moments with Hardison and Eliot.
When it comes to the missions themselves, they are just as fun and thrilling as you remember. Whether the team is trying to take down a corrupt congressman in a casino or attempting to help a client find who is really responsible for a makeshift haunting that could cause her to lose her house, watching the team build a scheme and adapt on the fly towards their ultimate goal never gets old. That said, it's the character's various eccentricities and their light-hearted banter that make the various heists and jobs so entertaining and the characters themselves so endearing.
While the heists are just like you remember, the characters have changed and evolved since the last time we saw them, but not so much as to be unrecognizable. Hardison has a whole new organization to help as he tries to provide supplies and relief internationally, though he's also teamed with Parker and Eliot to create their own organization since the original series ended. That provides a twist on Sophie, who walks back into a fully self-sufficient team this time around, yet that changes a bit when Brianna and Harry join the team. The show conveys that they've all grown since the original, but also highlights that, when they get together, old habits die hard, and it's a welcome balance.
Redemption also knows its audience, so there are plenty of little callbacks and memorable phrases that pop up throughout. They feel organic to the characters if you've been watching since the beginning, but someone from the outside of that might feel as if they're forced without that context. Also, Leverage always dealt with high-stakes action and danger, but with a lighthearted touch, and sometimes that does take away from the sense of tension and stakes in each mission since you often don't feel as if someone is really going to die or someone is actually in real danger.
It's also unfortunate that Hardison can't be in every single episode. Hardison and Parker together in scenes are always engaging, and the same can be said of Hardison and Brianna. The character brings such delightful warmth and personality to every scene he's in, and his exchanges with Harry really help form the foundation for this team and this season overall. Still, the show does a lovely job of conveying his presence in the story and within the team, even when he's not there, and he's around enough overall that fans should leave feeling like they got the reunion they were hoping for.
Leverage: Redemption picks up right where the original series left off, and longtime fans will adore seeing their favorite characters back in action. Meanwhile, the new additions to the cast inject the series with fresh energy that, frankly, I didn't even know I wanted, but after seeing it all come together, I truly don't want to say goodbye. The thrills, humor, and heart are all accounted for, creating a revival that any fan is going to absolutely love.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Leverage: Redemption hits IMDb TV on July 9th.
Tell us what you're most excited to see in Leverage: Redemption in the comments, and you can talk all things Leverage with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!