TV review: "Rubicon"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Following "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," AMC looks to go three-for-three in quality dramas with the new conspiracy thriller "Rubicon." Granted, it's a completely unfair standard to live up to, but a level of excellence from AMC is expected.

This modern-day mystery - giving off an excellent 1970s "Three Days of the Condor" paranoia vibe - revolves around a private think tank working for intelligence communities and its talented upstart, Will Travers (James Badge Dale). Everything is not as it seems.

Things begin with a foreboding bang, literally - a mysterious man shoots himself in his mansion (with his wife and grandchildren there, no less) after finding a four-leaf clover among his newspapers.

This seems bizarre, but newspapers and odd symbols play a significant role in the throwback world of "Rubicon." When Will finds a cryptic message in crossword puzzles, he stumbles upon a nefarious plot he's unaware of for now.

So, does "Rubicon" live up to AMC's other great dramas? No, but it's not far behind.

The characters are interesting, if still mysterious, and the cinematography captures a feeling of anxious tension nicely while emphasizing a theme of patterns through overhead street shots. Only the dialogue could be slightly tighter.

The story doesn't really start to take shape until after Sunday's two-hour premiere. Even after four episodes, "Rubicon" still feels like an incredibly slow burn. But I have faith it will result in an astonishing and powerful payoff.

"Rubicon" series premiere

8 p.m. Sunday on AMC

Three and a half stars