Based on the book by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, WE OWN THIS CITY chronicles the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force and the corruption and moral collapse that befell an American city in which the policies of drug prohibition and mass arrest were championed at the expense of actual police work.
We Own This City isn’t a sequel to The Wire but it is just as addictive. The creators have this wonderful way of weaving multiple stories into one awesome narrative. I didn’t know how much I missed this world until I started watching this show. While watching I would check how much time was left in the episode while worrying it would end soon. We Own This City has a story of neglect and decay for the city of Baltimore that is depressing, informative, and entertaining. I like how we get to see The individual stories of the different members of law enforcement and see from all angles how everything failed.
The casting in this show is really clever and though actors like Jamie Hector, Darrell Britt-Gibson, and Tray Chaney return to the same Baltimore streets they’re playing entirely different characters. We also get to enjoy performances from “newcomers” Wunmi Mosaku, Josh Charles, Jamie Hector, and Jon Bernthal. Jon Bernthal has this really awesome opening scene at the beginning of the first episode where he just radiates the aura of a cop of abusive nightmares. Without a single word, we find out what kind of character Sgt. Wayne Jenkins is and we learn the overall tone of the show moving forward.
Director Reinaldo Marcus Green really impresses with his seeming mastery of ensemble storytelling. The Wire excels at introducing multiple characters with intertwining stories and making great characters that we love to this day. We Own This City is instantly familiar because it introduces new characters with familiar stories. These characters and their narratives are sprinkled throughout the episode in an understandable but unpredictable way. We know that Daniel Hersl’s story is going to circle back to Nicole Steels, and maybe intertwine with Sgt Wayne Jenkins but we just don’t know how or when.
There are times when we get lost when the show skips back and forth to different points in the story. Jon Bernthal’s characters’ outfits help identify when these moments take place but they are disorienting. There are times when the show teases that Sgt. Wayne Jenkin will be the focus of the episode but it instead pulls back and introduces the larger cast. This isn’t inherently bad but is difficult when only viewing this show in one-hour portions.
I really enjoy We Own This City and love the idea of revisiting Baltimore with the creators of The Wire. The show nails that almost documentary style of cinematography that was the signature of The Wire. I love the visuals, the cast, and the music. I am still trying to process Jamie Hector as a police officer and I wonder if taking this role was intentional. The twists for the fans of the Wire are all throughout and I can’t wait to see more. This must be what Better Call Saul fans feel like.
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/108/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 9/109/10
- Setting/Theme - 9/109/10
- Watchability - 9/109/10
- Rewatchability - 10/1010/10