Spy se­ries doesn’t miss tar­get

Not-to-be-messed-with Ash­ley Judd is a real pres­ence on writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY TV -

TELE­VI­SION view­ers are in dire need of a new se­cret agent now that Jack Bauer is out of the picture.

Well, un­til that muchdis­cussed 24 movie ac­tu­ally gets made at least – and Kiefer Suther­land is busy play­ing a de­voted dad to an autis­tic child who might hold the key to the un­seen con­nec­tions that link us all on Net­work Ten’s new se­ries Touch.

By the way, a brief di­gres­sion: what’s the gen­eral ver­dict on Touch? The first episode was quite good and Suther­land and the sup­port­ing cast all de­liv­ered strong, sym­pa­thetic work but will it be a bit like the payTV se­ries Awake –a fas­ci­nat­ing con­cept that bolts out of the gates but may lack the abil­ity to go the whole dis­tance?

Any­way, where were we? Ah, that’s right: spies. Or, to be more pre­cise, in­tel­li­gence agents who have no qualms about slap­ping you silly – or worse – to get what they need. On 24, Suther­land’s Jack Bauer did so to save the world. On Net­work Seven’s new ac­tion drama Miss­ing, Ash­ley Judd is do­ing so to res­cue her ab­ducted son.

You re­mem­ber Judd, of course. Back in the late ’90s and early ’00s, she was a small but ef­fi­cient show­biz in­dus­try unto her­self play­ing tough women who found them­selves in dra­matic, dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions, only to emerge vic­to­ri­ous thanks to their nat­u­ral pluck and grit (and a lit­tle help from a griz­zled men­tor such as Tommy Lee Jones or Mor­gan Free­man).

Judd’s charis­matic and com­pelling work in movies such as Kiss the Girls and Dou­ble Jeop­ardy made it clear that she was not to be messed with. But in re­cent years she’s been miss­ing in ac­tion, so to speak.

But she’s back and rar­ing to go in Miss­ing, a distaff ver­sion of the big-screen ac­tion hit Taken, where Liam Nee­son killed half the bad guys in Paris to re­trieve his kid­napped daugh­ter.

In Miss­ing’s case, it’s the teenage son of Judd’s Becca Win­stone, a re­tired CIA op­er­a­tive, who is pinched while he’s at­tend­ing col­lege in Rome.

Well, Becca isn’t sit­ting still for that kind of non­sense and be­fore you can say ‘‘back in busi­ness’’, she’s high­tailed it to Europe where she’s tan­gling with shad­owy as­sas­sins, get­ting in­volved in scooter chases, flirt­ing with hunky Ital­ian spies and be­ing the most fe­ro­cious mama bear ever.

The DNA of Miss­ing is ev­i­dent for all to see – aside from shame­lessly lift­ing the premise from the afore­men­tioned Taken, there are ob­vi­ous nods to the Bourne movies and, nat­u­rally enough, that ter­rific fe­male-spy se­ries Alias.

As be­fits a show that bor­rows el­e­ments from so many en­joy­able movies and pro­grams, it’s a gid­dily en­joy­able romp. That said, it does take it­self a lit­tle se­ri­ously, and one gets the feel­ing that a lit­tle more aware­ness of how ridicu­lous it can get on oc­ca­sion might serve Miss­ing well.

Ab­duc­tion’s no laugh­ing mat­ter, of course, and Judd never winks at the cam­era.

But when I think of my mum com­ing to save me, her ram­pag­ing through Europe doesn’t spring to mind as much as her pick­ing me up from the blue-light disco. As far I can tell, how­ever, my mum never took out a gun-wield­ing bad guy armed only with a coathanger, so what do I know?

Ash­ley Judd (left) is a mum try­ing to find her son in

Tues­days, 9.30pm, Seven, Prime7.

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