'Queen Sono' takes a bold swing but misses the mark
"Queen Sono" is the first fully produced African Netflix original series and unfortunately it is not worth the binge-watch.
South African media personality and actress Pearl Thusi leads "Queen Sono" as our main protagonist in this action-packed series that follows the highly trained top spy, Queen Sono, in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens.
The overall premise of the show is a breath of fresh air within an African context as "Queen Sono" is a fusion of James Bond and Kim Possible.
The cinematography is also quite beautiful and seeing Africa presented in such a cinematic way is awe-inspiring.
Unfortunately, that’s about where the positives end for this show.
The screenwriting and overall direction of the show is heavily lacking with awkward pacing and unnatural dialogue. While watching the show, characters would speak in a turn-based manner and the f-bombs placed in the show seem out of place.
Tonally, "Queen Sono" never strikes a balance between humorous, suspenseful action and dramatic moments. In fact they all fall into a very meh middle ground.
For example, there was one specific scene in the second episode that I could see was written with the intent of being humorous, but since the comic timing
was off, the entire scene just fell flat - which is surprising since Lediga is a veteran stand-up comedian.
The acting overall is lacklustre and most times comes across as wooden. This is especially true for Thusi and Sechaba Morojele who plays Dr Sid.
Thusi never really connects with the character and while watching the show my mind drifted constantly because I was never drawn in.
Loyiso Madinga plays her sidekick as a fellow field agent of the Special Operations Group (SOG) and for some reason jumps between various accents. I initially thought he was Zimbabwean, then at times, he would sound Nigerian and sometimes even French. It was very distracting and I didn’t understand why they could not just get a Zimbabwean or Nigerian actor for the role?
Madinga is weirdly also not the comic relief which I found to be a strange choice since he is a comedian. Rob Van Vuuren plays a paraplegic agent for some strange reason, and again, I’m sure there are very capable disabled actors that could’ve done the role justice.
The sound design and music score are - how can put this - very hodgepodge. While it’s great to have so many South African musicians featured, the way the music is used is very jarring and is mostly used for awkward transitions. The sound effects are also not mixed properly and you can distinctly hear that the gunshots and breaking glass sound effects were done in post-production.
While I am very happy for getting an African produced show from the streaming giant, in all honesty, if I wasn’t reviewing the show I would’ve given up halfway through the first episode.
"Queen Sono" starts streaming on Netflix from February 28.