Con Man or Christ: Netflix’s Messiah Review (No Spoilers)

Having already received a fair amount of backlash from Muslim viewers following the release of its trailer,  Messiah , on Netflix (aired January 1, 2010) is an interesting watch.

The show stars Mehdi Dehbi as the titular Al-Masih and Michelle Monaghan as the CIA agent tasked with deciphering if Dehbi really is who he claims to be. The show centres around the premise that the “Messiah” has come back to right the world’s wrongs, but this time in the 21st Century. Set mainly in the Middle East and America, Al-Masih sparks international controversy through his various miracle-like actions, much to the upset of the CIA and other international security organizations.

The show was created and executively produced by Michael Petroni, who had a hand in the screenplays behind thrillers such as Possession (2009) and The Rite (2011). Executive producers also include Roma Downey, producer of Ben-Hur (2016) and James McTeigue most famously known for The Matrix Trilogy and the critically acclaimed V for Vendetta (2005).

The cast also incorporates a few languages into the often crowded script alongside English, including Hebrew and Arabic.

The show has amazing sets which heighten its production value. It provides an international feel as it takes place in multiple locations around the world, giving the show a hyper-realistic and relevant edge. These locations include a replica of the Temple Mount originally located in Jerusalem, New Mexico, and Jordan.

At least Messiah can’t come under fire like shows set in similar locations, notably Homeland, where the portrayal of Middle Eastern and Muslim persons has been heavily criticized over cultural and linguistic blunders.

All of this makes Messiah seem like it would be a great watch, especially in the 21st century, where we are constantly being fed news about “deep-fakes” and hoaxes, but Messiah comes off quite dry for the first half of its 10 episodes.

It’s only after the fifth episode that things start to heat up in the series, but this is pushed forward by acceptable often block-like writing more than anything else.

Characteristically speaking, Monaghan is trope-y and predictable in her performance as the CIA agent out to discover the truth of Al-Masih. Dehbi, whilst tasked with bringing to life an overwhelmingly-filled 10 episodes, says very little. His few lines are delivered with a kind of enchanting nature that you can’t help but listen to, while his actions are meant to speak louder than his words.

Messiah is now available to stream on Netflix.

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