Arnold’s Comedic Tactics: Our Review of ‘FUBAR’ (2023) on Netflix

Posted in Netflix by - May 27, 2023
Arnold’s Comedic Tactics: Our Review of ‘FUBAR’ (2023) on Netflix

Luke Brunner (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is an Austrian-born CIA Agent. And yes, when I rationalize it, it makes sense that the CIA would hire foreign born nationals. After a mission involving diamonds or something, he turns 65, which is when normal people retire. There is a possibility that FUBAR exists as a show if he actually does retire, but it’s more interesting if the agency diecdes that he needs to return to do one last job. That one last job, by the way, involves taking down a weapons dealer, Boro (Gabriel Luna) who is a metaphorical son to him and to rescue a fellow agent in deep cover. What he doesn’t know is that that fellow agent is his daughter Emma (Monica Barbaro).

I’m not the biggest Arnold-ologist. Although yes, I caught the obvious chopper reference when Luke and Emma are trying to stop Boro’s henchmen from stealing gas from a train in Kazakhstan. Luke, Emma, and their team jet from one exotic country to another. And the team remembers that the biggest weapon in intelligence comes up – sex. The jokes in this show come from Luke’s anxiety. He gets anxious while watching Emma use some sex to get information from oblivious men. Nothing’s funnier, theortetically, than a man having no control of his child’s actions. Emma, in turn, throws back the fact that he probably used the same tactics, which led to their family’s breakup.

Schwarzenegger, like 60% of action stars of his time, can be funny. Whether or not that’s on purpose is debatable. Regardless, it feels as if the show throws too many things at its viewers to know whether or not he can pull of action comedy by himself. Other cast members include Fortune Feimster as part of the CIA team who makes jokes about the kind of toll the work does on her body. Scott Thompson plays Luke and Emma’s psychiatrist and the show doesn’t give him enough material. Jay Barcuhel is a comic actor who competently plays a more serious character as Emma’s fiancee which, thank God the show showed restraint, but restraint feels too late at this point.

FUBAR‘s weaker yet more fascinating aspect is its production value. Most of the action takes place indoors to hide that fact that Toronto is substituting for DC. My home city is also substituting for all of the international locations. The show adds international flavour by making Barbaro and the other cast members say throwaway lines in random languages. This, theoretically, is an approach that can work. Most people know Greek landmarks but not, say, ones in Moldova. Veteran TV directors Phil Abraham and Holly Dale do their best to present a veneer of a budget here. But most viewers know that the rest of the show is mediocre.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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