Technology inevitably changes the way that we experience things. For better and worse, smartphones have become a humongous part of our daily lives. So it’s only fitting that new forms of entertainment should take advantage of this. Enter Snapchat’s series Action Royale, shot in the unique 9×16 format, which is best viewed on a phone. Each of the ten episodes is around five minutes long and feature fast “MTV-style” cuts to keep the young demographic engaged.
The show, directed by Maria Juranic and Igor Martinovic, is a millennial version of Breaking Bad, with video games taking the place of crystal meth. A teenager named Trilby (Nicholas Hamilton) starts an underground esports gambling ring in order to pay off his father’s (Sean Maguire) gambling debt. Trilby’s best friend, Reggie (Haleigh Hekking), is his ringer since other male gamers believe in the stereotype that females can’t play, much like White Men Can’t Jump.
“…starts an underground esports gambling ring in order to pay off his father’s gambling debt.”
Trilby reminds me of the titular star of the 1990s sitcom Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Both people are smug, cocky, and seem to get all the breaks, other than the precarious predicament that they find themselves in. I didn’t particularly enjoy that aspect of the lead role. Maybe it’s an age thing because I did love Parker Lewis when I was a kid. When you’re young, you feel powerless, so seeing someone so in control at a young age feels empowering. When you’re older, that same character just comes off as a jerk.
With that out of the way, it needs to be noted that the entire cast of Action Royale is awesome. Nicholas Hamilton excels at playing the Zack Morris type, no matter how grating the character comes off. Kim Coates is great at playing the villainous bookie Jeno. He comes across as menacing but with a human touch. But it is Haleigh Hekking who is the standout. She feels natural throughout and believably displays a full range of emotions.
The entire season of Action Royale has a total runtime of only 49 minutes, so it’s a breeze to binge. It’s an enjoyable watch, thanks to the cast and pace. But I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how the drug-addicted, lying, and stealing from his son, dad character wasn’t worth all of the trouble that Trilby was going through. Hopefully, the series ends with a satisfying conclusion, possibly even in a Walter White style.
"…an enjoyable watch..."