Justified: City Primeval (2023)
Written by: Dave Andron & Michael Dinner (eps. 1 – 2, 7 – 8); Eisa Davis & Chris Provenzano (eps. 3, 5); Taylor Elmore (ep. 4); Taylor Elmore & V.J. Boyd (ep. 6)
Directed by: Michael Dinner (eps. 1 -2, 8); Jon Avnet (ep. 3); Gwyneth Horder-Payton (ep. 4); Kevin Rodney Sullivan (ep. 5); Sylvain White (ep. 6); Katrelle Kindred (ep. 7)
Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Boyd Holbrook, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Adelaide Clemens, Marin Ireland, Victor Williams, Norbert Leo Butz, Alexander Pobutsky, Terry Kinney, Regina Taylor, Yosef Kasnetzkov, Paul Calderon, Amin Joseph, Walton Goggins, Keith David, Natalie Zea, Luis Guzmán and Vivian Olyphant.
Raylan Givens (T. Olyphant) is a US Marshall and part time father to his 15 year old daughter, Willa (V. Olyphant). Raylan is sent to Detroit to testify in a court case. While testifying, Raylan tests Judge Alvin Guy’s patience. That evening the judge is murdered by a sociopath named Clement Mansell.. Raylan is assigned to the team tracking down the killer.
Mansell is known as The Oklahoma Wildman. He has no fear and kills without remorse. Before it is over, Raylan will find himself dealing not only with Mansell, but an attorney willing to cross the line in her efforts to become a judge, a dirty cop, and the Armenian mob.
“You want a shootin’ match? Let’s go.”
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…
The Elmore Leonard novel City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit doesn’t feature Raylan Givens. It was adapted to bring back Justified. The novel’s protagonist is Homicide Detective Raymond Cruz. The Cruz character also appeared in Leonard’s Out of Sight novel. When Out of Sight was transformed into a feature film starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, Paul Calderón played Detective Cruz. Calderón also appears as Cruz in Justified: City Primeval.
A hero is only as good as the villain he’s facing. Clement Mansell is a great one. Boyd Holbrook is perfect. Other standouts include:
- Aunjanue Ellis as Carolyn Wilder. Wilder is Mansell’s defense attorney who ends up in a complicated relationship with Raylan. She’s strong, vulnerable and willing to cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
- Vondie Curtis-Hall as Marcus “Sweety” Sweeton. Sweety was once a talented musician, crook and friend to Mansell Clement. Now Sweety owns a bar. Sweety is drawn back into the life with the return of Mansell and his plan to get rich.
- Adelaide Clemens as Sandy Stanton. Sandy is Mansell’s
woman girl. She’s in way over her head and sees no way out.
- Victor Williams as Detective Wendell Robinson. Williams is best known for his comedic role on The King of Queens. Here he shows his dramatic chops.
- Keith David as Judge Alvin Guy. Keith is only in one episode, but he shines.
Some actors/actresses are born to play a character. Timothy Olyphant is a perfect example. He IS US Marshall Raylan Givens. Everyone remembers the great lines and Olyphant’s delivery. I also love the quiet moments when Olyphant uses his body language, eyes and facial expressions to sell a scene.
It’s not often a series returns and is as great as the original. Justified: City Primeval is a great example that it can be done. There’s an excellent set-up for another season at the end of Justified: City Primeval. I hope it happens.
Justified: City Primeval (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.