TV Review: “Legends” – Sean Bean Saves It

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 21, 2014

Promotional materials for "Legends"


Sean Bean is a bit of an anomaly. People know him. People love him. And yet Hollywood and TV execs have never taken full advantage of his talents or popularity, and continues to murder him in increasingly brutal and bloody ways. After an immensely popular stint on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” fans have been eager for Sean Bean to throw himself into the role of leading man once more. Now, TNT’s “Legends” is hoping to fill that void. While it’s a nice change of pace to see Bean chasing the bad guys rather than being repeatedly executed by them, the show has little to offer in terms of originality.

According to the opening credits, in law enforcement a “legend” is a fictional persona taken on by an undercover operative. These legends have back-stories, medical records, documents, personalities; everything the operative might need to fully become the character. Martin Odum (Bean) is the FBI’s best undercover asset, and his ability to slip in and out of legend is truly… legendary. But after a run in with a seemingly crazy homeless man Odum begins to question not only his job, but his past, and his very identity. There seems to be a much larger web being spun as he races to discover just what is being kept from him, and by whom.

“There is no Martin Odum!”

The producers obviously spent much of their budget getting Sean bean onboard. Unfortunately the rest of the “Legends” cast is rather unspectacular. Ali Larter stars as Odum’s handler and supervisor. Morris Chestnut is another FBI agent investigating Odum’s activities. Amber Valletta and Steve Harris round out the cast as Odum’s wife and boss respectively. While the cast is pretty lame, Larter is the real weak link. She’s horribly ill-suited as the hardnosed agent with a chip on her shoulder. Her lack of charisma sucks all the energy out of every scene she shares with Bean.

Sean Bean on "Legends"

Sean Bean as Martin Odum

Ho-hum cast aside, the show is chock full of cliches and tired, redone plots. The first episode deals with domestic terrorists. The next three concern Russian war criminals selling chemical weapons. It’s all stuff you’ve seen in countless generic espionage films, but here it has to be wrapped up in about 42 minutes (lucky for us maybe). Where “Legends” shows promise is in its (far too) slowly revealed overarching plot concerning Odum’s hidden past. There’s genuine intrigue there, and I find myself curious as to where it’ll lead. If the show could pick up the pace and focus solely on the conspiracy aspect it might actually improve, and further remove itself from the other boring subplots.

“I don’t have to win. I just have to endure.”

The show’s only true shining asset is Sean Bean. Whether it’s Seen Been or Shon Bon the man is just awesome. His turn as Martin Odum is the perfect mix of cynical jerk and haunted man. And while we watch Odum slip in and out of legend, we watch Bean slip in and out of multiple characters per episode. It’s impressive and entertaining, and allows for a lot of range in Bean’s performance, reminding us why he’s so popular. This is one role I’d actually like to see him reprise again and again, so hopefully he can survive long enough for us to get our fill.

Sean Bean on "Legends" in one of his undercover roles

Martin Odum as Dante Auerbach

“Legends” doesn’t break any new ground, and it doesn’t try to. The main problem is that it seems to think that it is, and takes itself a bit too seriously. Sean Bean is giving a powerhouse performance, and it’d be nice if the show was a bit more suited to his talents. The first few episodes are far too “episodic” and don’t fit the themes “Legends” is striving for. Perhaps as more of the overarching plot is revealed it’ll pick up a bit. As it stands, it’s an enjoyable action-thriller with a main actor who’s on a much higher level. So, if the writers are seeing this: DON’T KILL HIM!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Legends poster

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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