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Fubar. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Luke Brunner in episode 101 of Fubar
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Television

‘FUBAR’ season 1 review: Super spies, action, and lies

Arnold is Arnold and more in FUBAR, his first live-action TV series as the lead.

In his heyday, Arnold Schwarzenegger was arguably the biggest action movie star. Many of his films scored big in the box office and he’s played a number of iconic characters. With the rising influence of streaming platforms, actors have become more open to television opportunities. FUBAR marks Schwarzenegger’s first leading role in a scripted live-action TV series.

The story follows Luke Brunner (Schwarzenegger) who lives a double life as a CIA operative ready to wrap up his last case. Afterwards, he can go into retirement and win back his ex-wife and family, whose relationship has been strained due to his job. While in the field, he discovers his daughter Emma (Monica Barbaro) followed in his footsteps and is also working for the agency. The show explores the familial dynamics of the Brunner household due to the lying while incorporating the espionage action and adventure.

FUBAR is a fitting vehicle to showcase what made Schwarzenegger so popular in the first place. He plays your quintessential tough guy smoking his cigars and beating down the bad guys one by one until he gets his man. The actor can lean into the comedic side when needed as well matching the occasion from a quick-witted remark to full on cartoonish commitment to a scene. Achieving this balance in his different roles is why he’s so affable.  

What’s more surprising, and impressive, is his dramatic range portraying a man who finally understands what it means to be a father. What begins as a single-minded goal to achieve by any means necessary evolves due to his greater empathy and desire to ensure Emma doesn’t make the same personal mistakes he did. Every look, deep breath, and sigh adds so much weight to his decisions and reflects on Luke’s internal conflict as he tries to do the right thing.

The series is very character driven not only between father and daughter, but with the entire CIA squad. Barry (Milan Carter) is the computer guy with Roo (Fortune Feimster) and Aldon (Travis Van Winkle) serving as the support out in the field. FUBAR is very effective in giving each compelling and complete arcs that run the course of the eight-episode season. Since Luke has spent the majority of his time with his team, they have a very family feel with great camaraderie between the cast. There is an intimate closeness between the characters and it’s as if you’re in on the inside jokes and ball busting. The talented actors add to the overall fun.

Fubar. (L to R) Fortune Feimster as Roo Russell, Milan Carter as Barry Putt, Aparna Brielle as Tina Mukerji, Travis Van Winkle as Aldon Reece, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Luke Brunner in episode 104 of Fubar.
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

You’ll have to be a little patient since the first episode is a little slow and formulaic. But it doesn’t take long for FUBAR to find its footing. After that, it all flows together well, and it’s made to be binged with episodes ending on a tense cliffhanger. The action sequences are not as intricate as some of the best ones out there today, but they do make up for it with style and attitude filled with synchronized choreography and a rocking accompanying soundtrack. It works for Arnold considering his older age that it still makes him look bad ass.

The writing and direction is also great at creating suspense. Since we’re dealing with super spies, there is always an elaborate plan that needs to be approached from different angles. The cuts and interplay with the different parts add to the anxiety where one little thing can doom it all. When it’s all done, the levity helps bring things back to earth without being too distracting.

However, FUBAR is missing an engrossing villain. That’s no knock on Diego Luna, but the case of the week format makes his Boro more of an objective than a person. It’s all about getting one step closer to him and there are numerous episodes where it feels Boro isn’t involved at all. As a result of the great character work of the good guys, he becomes neglected. There is an attempt to highlight the personal connection between Luke and Boro, but it doesn’t quite click. Continuing with the casting, one of the guest stars is a pleasant reunion considering the genre while some of the others don’t add much to the narrative and could have been played by anyone.

If you’re a fan of Arnold, then FUBAR is for you. If not, you could be surprised and won over by his dramatic turn. If you have no clue who he is, then enjoy the mix of dark comedy, action, and a lot of family heart.

Watch the entire first season of FUBAR on Netflix.

'FUBAR' season 1 review: Super spies, action, and lies
FUBAR S 1 review
If you're a fan of Arnold, then FUBAR is for you. If not, you could be surprised and won over by his dramatic turn. If you have no clue who he is, then enjoy the mix of dark comedy, action, and a lot of family heart.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Schwarzenegger is good with the action and comedy, but surprises with his dramatic range.
The camaraderie and closeness of the work family makes you feel your in on all the inside jokes and ball busting.
Action sequences filled with style and attitude along with great suspense.
Diego Luna's Boro isn't developed enough and feels more as an objective than a person.
Some of the guest stars don't add much to the narrative and could have been played by anyone.
8
Good

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