Christoph Waltz Leads an Unpredictable Thriller Series

Feb 24, 2023

What’s the worst thing that could happen to a company? For that matter, what’s the best thing? In Prime Video’s darkly comedic thriller series The Consultant, the answer to both questions is one and the same: Regus Patoff (Christoph Waltz). Created by Tony Basgallop and based on the Bentley Little novel of the same name, The Consultant focuses on a mobile game company called CompWare whose wunderkind CEO dies under mysterious (and horrifying) circumstances. Shortly afterward, a consultant appears on the scene and takes charge of the office, taking increasingly unnerving steps to raise productivity.

Bentley Little’s work often involves enigmatic entities and unexplained events; in this case, the titular consultant, Regus Patoff. Does it surprise anyone that Waltz executes the role to perfection? Regus is scary, strangely humorous, and utterly inhuman, a person (if he even is a person) who works in mysterious ways his horrors and wonders to perform. The whole story hinges on the fact that Regus’ past is a complete mystery, one that CompWare employees Elaine (Brittany O’Grady) and Craig (Nat Wolff) set out to investigate. Waltz has a powerful presence in every scene he enters, but the rest of the cast are no slouches either. Both O’Grady and Wolff play relatable protagonists, delivering intense performances. O’Grady’s Elaine is the one who ends up having to work most closely with Regus, forming a rather complicated almost-mentor relationship with him. We’ve seen some great performances from O’Grady in the past, especially her role as Paula in the first season of The White Lotus. Her Elaine has a kindness and nervousness about it that makes her eventual journey all the more meaningful. Ultimately, she’s the one who benefits the most, but she doesn’t get there without facing a world of terror.

Image via Prime Video

Related:’The Consultant’ Trailer Reveals Christoph Waltz as the Boss From Hell

Craig, on the other hand, is the one who ends up paying the steepest cost for his association with Regus. Over the course of the season, we see Craig’s life crumble in every facet, even as he obsessively tries to understand this strange man who has entered his life so abruptly. A significant part of that life is Aimee Carrero’s Patti, Craig’s fiancee who’s trying to get him to convert to Catholicism. Their relationship, already strained at the beginning of the story, is put through the absolute wringer, with both characters finding themselves changed forever by the end of it. But is it for the better or for the worse?

We’re not going to get into too many spoilers here because this really is a story that you should uncover bit by bit. That said, we can say that nothing in The Consultant is ever what you think. Series creator Tony Basgallop, who also wrote all the episodes, has built a narrative that pulls the floor out from under you at every turn. The series is never afraid to be bold or upsetting, with a scene early on in the first episode that… well, it involves kids, a gun, and a lot of blood. You can’t get comfortable with this show. It’s not a story that’s meant for background watching, though I would recommend a marathon binge. The sheer suspense will have you breezing through episodes, eager for more. A lot of the credit for that rightfully goes to the directors, Matt Shakman (Episode 1), Daniel Attias (Episodes 2 and 3), Charlotte Brändström (Episodes 6 and 7), Alexis Ostrander (Episodes 4 and 5) and Karyn Kusama (Episode 8). Shakman’s episode and Kusama’s episode, the pilot and the finale, are the biggest hitters, but all the episodes present chilling plots that are executed brilliantly.

Image via Prime Video

My initial reaction to the series was simple: I was blown away by just how bizarre it all was (in a good way, of course). The plot progresses in rapid escalation, building to an ending that really raises more questions than it answers. And there’s an eerie tension that ties the whole thing together, making the whole journey so much more enjoyable. The best part? The Consultant is, ultimately, a comedy. It’s just that it takes a second for the punchline to sink in. Because once you get through all of that tense storytelling and make it to the climax, where you hope to finally find answers… there aren’t any. Or rather, there are, but they just leave you hungry for more.

We do find out what Regus does. We find out what he’s made of (literally). And yet, none of that tells us why he does the things he does. Let’s be clear, this isn’t a criticism, it’s that never-ending sense of enigma that makes The Consultant such a thoroughly enjoyable watch. You’ll spend days trying to puzzle out the ending, piece together Regus’ master plan (if he even has one), or even just trying to make up your mind about whether he’s a villain or a hero. Because ironically, Regus doesn’t claim to be either; it’s the people around him whose paranoia and suspicions lead us to think of wild conspiracies, trying to explain the unexplainable.

And that, if you ask me, is the joke. Just like the employees at CompWare, you will fear Regus. You will find him infuriating, intimidating, and endlessly frustrating. There will even be times when you find yourself feeling tortured by him. And at the end of it all, you will thank him for the experience, after which you will sincerely hope you never have a boss like him. Of course, that’s just one way to look at it and the beauty of The Consultant is that it leaves the door open for multiple interpretations. What’s yours?

Rating: A

The Consultant premieres on Prime Video on February 24.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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