Review: Hulu’s Catch-22

A week ago, Hulu released their anticipated World War II drama Catch-22. Based on the 1961 novel by Joseph Heller, the story takes a satirical look at military life in early 1940s Italy. The series focuses on a US bombardier who tries to find reasons to be dismissed from service before what he believes will be his inevitable death. The series was created by Luke Davies (Life, Lion) and David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), and produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

Christopher Abbot (James White, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) plays Yossarian, the bombardier feverishly looking for a way out of service. Abbot’s portrayal is one mixed with anxiety and cynicism. Yossarian believes he’s surrounded by a squadron fooled by a blind commitment to service instead of the actual horrors of what they’re facing. Driving him to the brink of insanity is his race to meet the quota of air missions in order to be dismissed from service, only to have that quota raised every time he approaches the previous requirement. The more time Yossarian spends with the unit, the more horror he witnesses from both the enemy and from some of his fellow officers, who use their status to cover their unethical behaviors.

Related – Joshua Jackson Joins Upcoming Hulu Drama Series Little Fires Everywhere

The series works well as both a sarcastic comedy and an engaging drama. It bounces back and forth between scenes like an Abbot & Costello-like debate over reading back the last line of a discussion to the intensity of flying over a target while avoiding enemy fire. While the series is set in a fictional squadron, it is inspired by author Heller’s experiences in World War II. It blends moments of over-the-top artistic expression with realistic absurdities that push the protagonist to the brink.

Joining Abbot in the cast is Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights, The Wolf Of Wall Street), Rafi Gavron (A Star Is Born), Kevin J. O’Connor (The Mummy), Tessa Ferrer (Grey’s Anatomy), Hugh Laurie (House), Giancarlo Giannini (Man On Fire,Casino Royale), and Julie Ann Emery (Fargo, Preacher), as well as Clooney and Heslov, who also directed two episodes each. The six-episode miniseries premiered on Hulu on May 17th. For those looking for a new WWII-era series to binge for Memorial Day that provides an alternative to past dramas of its genre, I suggest giving this one a try.

Additionally, if you’re a fan of the brand of comedic quirkiness Clooney brings when he’s cast in a Coen Brothers film (O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty, Burn After Reading, and Hail, Caesar), then you’ll enjoy his supporting work in this project.

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