The Veil review: Elizabeth Moss headlines glossy spy thriller but this is no Killing Eve | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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The Veil review: Elizabeth Moss headlines glossy spy thriller but this is no Killing Eve

Apr 24, 2024 09:42 PM IST

The Veil, written by Steven Knight, stars Elizabeth Moss as a spy who finds herself caught up in a web of secrets. It releases on Disney+ Hotstar on April 30.

Another day, another globe-trotting spy series with morbid grey cityscapes. Secrets abound, identities are tossed around, while normal life goes on in the sidelines, perfectly oblivious. If the first four episodes of FX's new six-part limited series are any indication, then this is a template that has been done to death multiple times over the years. (Also read: Quentin Tarantino's swansong: 4 things to know about his now-scrapped final film The Movie Critic)

Elizabeth Moss in a still from The Veil.
Elizabeth Moss in a still from The Veil.

The premise

Elizabeth Moss--who is certainly one of those actors whose presence akins a sense of promise for the project itself--is front and centre here. She is Imogen (or so she would like to be called)- a fraught MI6 agent who is "used in very high level situations," but when we first meet her fencing off a rather unpredictably insipid German man, she ends her mission by saying, "All done. No fuss, no muss." Yeah, that's about it- and it comes off rather unintentionally taciturn and funny.

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For her next mission, Imogen will shift base first to Istanbul, where she will meet Adilah El Idrissi (Yumna Marwan)- a woman who is believed to be an ISIS commander. Her interests, her history are arresting. At the first turn of events, she is the one getting on top of the food truck to throw the aid to the other women in the camp. It almost leads her to death, but somehow she survives. With Imogen's arrival, there's a shift. She tries to safeguard the woman for her own mission, and take her to the Edip Köyü camp before the Amercians get hold of her.

The problems

The Veil, which is written by Steven Knight, starts with intrigue and style. Knight is the creator of Peaky Blinders- so the expectations are sky-high with The Veil. Here, the focus seems to be shaky and undetermined- objectively jostling to figure out whose story must take precedence. When one does reach the trajectory of Adilah, there's a promise for more. The two women better not trust each other from the beginning, and it works to some extent. But why the dramatic flashbacks and the need to create suspense for Imogen? Why does the focus constantly nitpick through her point of view, ultimately providing a level of unreliability at the center that threatens to hamper the tension of the narrative? The promise of the first episode wears off in the next one, when more characters are introduced and the plot predictably loses the edge with more subplots.

The biggest concern with The Veil is perhaps how the central characters do not feel complex and well chalked out. The wobbly look of opacity that Moss injects into Imogen can only help her case to some extent, but after a close few scenes, her responses become predictable. Adilah's arc should have gotten more prominence, which will perhaps play out better in the remaining episodes, and rightfully so. Yumna provides able support to the scenes in the later episodes, bringing much-needed intrigue and ferocity to her part.

The Veil is pulpy and boasts a reliably sleek production design. Yet, with the first four episodes in, and the cover of a prestige spy series slowly begins to feel predictable and underwhelming. It unintentionally reminds one of the terrific severity of another women-led show called Killing Eve- and how memorable those characters were. Here, not so much of that killer instinct yet.

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