HUMAN TARGET - 1.5 - "Run" Review (Mania.com)

By:Rob Vaux
Review Date: Thursday, February 11, 2010
Source: Mania

Nobody likes crooked cops, least of all Christopher Chance (Mark Valley). The opportunity to square off against a whole city full of them makes quite the tempting assignment, as well as getting Human Target away from the "one set, one threat" premise which it has adopted up until now. Instead of being stuck in a single building or vehicle, "Run" sends us through every corner of San Francisco, courtesy of a tracking device secreted on the target's person and a bunch of bad guys happy to pursue it wherever it may lead.

Allison Russo (Kristen Lehman) is a crusading DA about to drop the hammer on San Francisco's biggest organized crime syndicate. Unfortunately, they have their fingers in the police department, the DA's office and city hall, which paints a great big target on her back. Enter Chance, happy to sniff out the rotten eggs and clever enough to find ways of doing so that the opposition won't expect. The episode sends the two of them careening through the city in a single extended chase scene.

Like most entries in the series, the central gimmick holds enough creative twists to adequately fill 45 minutes of screen time. Chance first needs to ferret out how the bad guys can track them, then hold them off long enough for his charge to secure an indictment against… well, against the entire civic structure of a major metropolitan area. Some of it comes across as supremely contrived: unmarked cars leisurely pursuing Chance and Russo in a big-ass SUV, with neither side hugely concerned about the outcome. Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley) pops in briefly to run some scans and try to counter the bug--smack in the middle of the action no less--which stretches audience indulgence still further with its deus ex machina presentation. The lack of urgency and lackadaisical insertion of Guerrero's expository pseudobabble hampers an otherwise decent sense of adrenaline, preventing "Run" from getting properly up to speed.

On the other hand, Chance's early detective work still holds plenty of pep, and director Kevin Hooks provides a few twists and turns to make up for the lost adrenaline. As always, Human Target understands how to show us Chance's smarts, rather than simply telling us. We watch him buffalo a snobby lawyer at the D.A.'s office through instant citation of pertinent cases, find a hidden witness in a hospital by using his knowledge of gunshot wounds, and get the lead dirty cop to tip his hand by revealing too much too soon. Those tricks never get old because the writers invest them with the right air of authenticity.

Similarly, the episode uses the terrific climax--a solid fight in a darkened office and a well-crafted run on a police blockade--to make up for the energy levels which earlier scenes couldn't quite muster. It only lasts ten minutes or so, but it leaves us with a cheerful smile and keeps the previous shortcomings from ruining our fun. Until then, Chance's sharp repartee and "Run's" patented Guerrero Moment (involving a bent technician trying to rewire somebody's ankle monitor ) holds the line quite admirably.

And it definitely does Human Target good to get out of the house for a little while--eschewing the studio sets in exchange for a little public mayhem. A few hokey touches (back screens visible in the vehicles, a final twist straight out of a bad 80s revenge flick) might be a detriment to other shows, but this one makes them feel right at home. Charm goes an awful long way sometimes, a fact which Human Target knows how to exploit. Without it, episodes like "Run" would spell certain doom. With it, they always keep us entertained, no matter how slight and forgettable they may be.



Mania Grade: B
Title: Human Target
Episode: Run
Starring: Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley
Written by: Jonathan E. Steinberg
Directed by: Kevin Hooks
Network: Fox
Series: Human Target