×

‘Messiah’ on Netflix: TV Review

With:

Michelle Monaghan, Mehdi Dehbi, Tomer Sisley

Release Date:
Jan 1, 2020

Making a TV show whose plot hinges on miracles is a challenging thing. Perceived miracles are startling in our world because of their divergence from universally accepted reality; events diverging, instead, from a reality a writer is creating are less mind-blowing. It takes a carefully balanced, well-constructed world in order to make viewers take the extraordinary on faith.

Messiah” lacks that. This new Netflix drama, produced by, among others, “Survivor’s” Mark Burnett and “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey, depicts a world apparently badly hungry for something in which to believe, as a mysterious young man (Mehdi Dehbi) rises to near-instant repute and cult-leader status for various pieces of performance art-slash-protest-slash… miracles, maybe.

That’s at least what his many acolytes insist, and one of the many incredulous aspects of “Messiah” is just how quickly “Al-Massih” brings into the fold both individuals (including, notably, a man of faith played by John Ortiz) and all of society. After beginning his adventures in Damascus and showing up in Jerusalem, Al-Massih’s peregrinations land him in rural Texas, where he’s granted amnesty by the government and begins an encampment-like village for his faithful.

All of this is told so blandly and straightfacedly as to deny any metaphorical reading or symbolic resonance; it’s as if by presenting Al-Massih’s story with as little vibrancy or mystery as possible, “Messiah” can make it more believable. Unfortunately, the end result is instead jarring — mashing up miraculous events with no power or weight with an uninteresting CIA procedural in which Michelle Monaghan plays an agent with a requisitely sad backstory on the Al-Massih case, whatever it even is. Monaghan previously played a role on Hulu’s “The Path,” a show about faith and ambiguously real cults that took a bit longer to lose its way; here, she’s doing a Carrie Mathison interpretation, keeping the zealous determination but haunted by balefulness instead of mental illness.

There’s an interesting show, perhaps, in the notion that Monaghan’s Eva Geller is as animated by faith as are Al-Massih’s disciples: faith, indeed, that their faith is wrong, bringing the two characters on a collision course. But because Eva is such a bland character and Al-Massih is by the show’s design unknowable — yielding nothing over the show’s first half other than miracles we don’t know whether to take at face value — there’s vastly less here. Over the show’s first season, no viewer could be blamed for eventually giving up the faith.

'Messiah' on Netflix: TV Review

Netflix. Ten episodes (five screened for review).

Production: Executive producers: Michael Petroni, James McTeigue, Andrew Deane, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey.

Cast:

Michelle Monaghan, Mehdi Dehbi, Tomer Sisley

, John Ortiz, Stefania LaVie Owen, Sayyid El Alami, Jane Adams, Melinda Page Hamilton, Wil Traval, Fares Landoulsi, Dermot Mulroney, Beau Bridges.

More TV

  • To All The Boys: P.S. I

    What's Coming to Netflix in February 2020

    There’s no better way to start the romantic month than to binge watch all your favorite romantic films and series coming to Netflix this February. Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly, but Netflix has got it covered when it comes to finding the perfect film or show to get viewers in the mood. Get ready to [...]

  • Hunters Amazon Prime Video

    Everything Coming to Amazon Prime in February 2020

    Jordan Peele’s upcoming show “Hunters” is among the slew of new movies and TV series that will be added to Amazon Prime Video next month. Peele executive produced “Hunters,” a drama following a group of Nazi hunters in New York City in 1977. The first season, created by David Weil, stars Al Pacino, Logan Lerman and [...]

  • Maya Rudolph and Natasha Lyonne Actors

    Maya Rudolph, Natasha Lyonne and Amazon Partner on Animated Series 'The Hospital'

    Maya Rudolph and Natasha Lyonne’s Animal Pictures banner and “Russian Doll” supervising producer Cirocco Dunlap are teaming up on the animated series “The Hospital,” which Amazon has put into active development. The series will follow Sleech and Klak, two brilliant alien doctors who specialize in rare sci-fi illnesses. When Sleech defies protocol and contracts a [...]

  • Jessica Biel, Michelle Purple's Iron Ocean

    Jessica Biel, Michelle Purple's Iron Ocean Sets First-Look Deal With Paramount Television Studios

    Iron Ocean Productions, the production company of Jessica Biel and Michelle Purple, has inked a two-year first-look deal with Paramount Television Studios. The deal covers scripted television projects. Iron Ocean’s previous shows include the critically-acclaimed drama “The Sinner” for USA Network, in which Biel also starred in the show’s first season. Biel received an Emmy [...]

  • Amazon Orders Animated Series About Los

    Amazon Orders Animated Series About Los Angeles Hypebeast Culture

    Amazon is set to explore the strange phenomenon of Los Angeles hypebeast culture. The streamer has issued a two-season order for “Fairfax,” an animated series which follows four middle school best friends on a never-ending quest for clout on L.A.’s titular Fairfax Avenue: the “pulsing heart of hypebeast culture.” The series hails from creators Matt Hausfater, [...]

  • Rick Haskins The CW

    The CW Promotes Rick Haskins to President of Streaming, Chief Brand Officer

    The CW has upped Rick Haskins to the role of president of streaming and chief brand officer. In his new role, Haskins will continue to oversee branding, marketing and promotion for The CW while also tackling the strategy and distribution of the broadcaster’s streaming platforms. That includes CW Seed, the network’s ad-supported streamer, as well [...]

  • High Fidelity

    What’s Coming to Hulu in February 2020

    Next month, Hulu will ring in Valentine’s Day with some counterprogramming. The streaming service will debut its original series “High Fidelity,” a gender-swapped reimagining of Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name. Previously, the book was adapted into a 2000 movie from Stephen Frears starring John Cusack. Zoë Kravitz stars as Rob Brooks, a music-obsessive [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content