Martin Carr reviews the first episode of Preacher…
If Tarantino did comic book adaptations Preacher would surely be at the top of his wish list. Frenetically shocking, blood soaked yet concise, what remains the biggest surprise in its opening minutes are Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. For men who are more associated with Judd Apatow, man-child comedy and arrested development dramedies Preacher seems like an odd fit.
However with the Garth Ennis seminal classic it appears they have hit their stride. What first hits you after the initial style over substance moments pass is how quickly Preacher becomes something else entirely. Unlike Constantine which primarily felt studio based, AMC have grounded their bite of the cherry in a very real and recognisable locale.
Annville is a small Texan town populated by stereotypes and comes over like A Time To Kill and Devil’s Advocate in its sense of claustrophobic humidity, narrow minded mentality and isolation. Interestingly though it never hits a false note. Although these characters are introduced in a very condensed hour and change, things never feel forced or hurried. Rogen and Goldberg along with Breaking Bad alumni Sam Catlin have crafted something of substance, which I can attest bares repeat viewing.
In truth Book One is sitting upstairs on my bedside cabinet no more than fifty pages down. And for those who expected a diehard fan to review Preacher this might come as a rude awakening. But the funny thing is I knew this was my type of party, just as Constantine struck the same chord even though I never picked up a single issue. There is something inherently appealing about the antihero to me when done well, which in this case should be considered an understatement.
With what feels like a larger production budget than Constantine, Rogen and Goldberg have taken scalpels and marked their territory with artistic honesty. Dominic Cooper may well be the best piece of casting outside of Matt Ryan’s John Constantine this reviewer has seen. While Ruth Negga’s Tulip and Joe Gilgun’s Cassidy almost steal the episode. Even though fans of Channel Four’s Misfits might be familiar with Negga and Gilgun, these characters are so fully formed, flesh filled and vibrant that this never matters.
Amongst the soul searching, R-rated violence and pitch black humour sits a sense of fun, which had until recently been missing from comic book adaptations. Even Constantine in spite of all its merits could never be called a bundle of laughs. A fact not lost on Rogen, Goldberg and assembled company. Preacher could do for Amazon Prime what House of Cards did for Netflix, which some may consider a bold statement. It might not be a match for the Marvel double whammy of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but Preacher is definitely something special. Do yourself a favour and track it down.