REVIEW: Hap and Leonard is a well-executed noir with engaging characters at its heart
Finally, a worthy successor to Justified has found its way onto British television screens: the brilliant new noir about two best friends, Hap and Leonard.
Hap and Leonard is the story of Hap Collins (James Purefoy) and Leonard Pine (Michael K. Williams), two best friends living in the Deep South during the 1980s who find themselves without work and without prospects. When Hap’s ex-wife and femme fatale Trudy (Christina Hendricks) shows up and recruits them for an illegal plan that could see them net a tidy $100,000 each, they soon find themselves embroiled in complete and utter chaos.
The series lives and dies by the interesting and unexpected dynamic between its two leads. Hap is a white East Texan womaniser and ex-con, while best friend Leonard is a volatile black Vietnam veteran who is openly gay and unapologetic. Despite the fact the pair could not be more different, they share an unshakeable bond and loyalty towards each other that provides a solid heart to the series. The chemistry shared by Purefoy and Williams is something special, as the two bounce off one another with sharp dialogue and a convincing familiarity that is hard to find on television.
Hap and Leonard are not the only well-defined and engaging characters. Christina Hendrick’s Trudy slots right into the series like she belongs there, and immediately begins shaping the series to her liking – and with her comes a whole brigade of hilarious individuals who help make the show worth watching.
The story is straightforward and well-executed, as you would expect from a good example of the genre. One small gripe is it does take a while to get going, but once you get there it is well worth it. This, of course, makes Hap and Leonard perfect for binge-watching.