After putting away some of the toughest criminals to ever grace his hometown, Marshal Raylan Givens returns for one more tough case in Justified: City Primeval. Timothy Olyphant is back in a fitting return for the eternally grumpy lawman with Bold Holbrook standing tall as the new deadly villain terrorizing the Motor City. Not the best season of Justified ever, but very entertaining and a worthwhile return. With an excellent A/V presentation for all episodes, your Justified collection isn’t complete without it. Recommended
If Hollywood loves to make sequels for its biggest hits, television networks are all about the revival series. Even when a show ends on the perfect note, there is a need to try and reinvigorate an old IP for one last mission. That is where we find ourselves with Elmore Leonard’s famed lawman Raylan Givens. By taking one of Leonard's best crime novels and adapting it to include his favorite Deputy Marshal, not only do we get the return of Timothy Olyphant, but fans wanting more may have hope for even more Justified in the years to come.
The last time we saw Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), he’d left the hometown hollers of Kentucky for a hopefully quieter life back in Miami helping raise his daughter. Fifteen years later, life isn’t any quieter for the lawman as he struggles between work and doing his part for his wilful daughter Willa (Vivian Olyphant - his real-life daughter). What was supposed to be some quality parent/child bonding time turns into an unexpected excursion to the Motor City. Pulling the grumpy lawman back into action is the killing of corrupt Detroit Judge Alvin Guy (Keith David). The only suspect in Raylan's crosshairs is the career criminal and murderer, the Oklahoma Wildman and wannabe singer Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook), and Detroit isn't a big enough town for the two of them.
When it was announced Justified was coming back and that late great author Elmore Leonard’s novel City Primeval was going to be the basis for the new season. I was equal parts ecstatic and cautious. I always wanted to see more Raylan Givens action and was happy to hear Olyphant was back under the hat, but at the same time, the series ended perfectly. The finale was one of the best and most fitting endings to a series and the idea of uncorking that bottle again was exciting, but I didn’t want anything to take away from that finish. It needed to not only be worth the effort, but it needed to be really good. For the most part, Justified: City Primeval was worth it and and generally pretty damn good.
Once again the best aspect of the new series is Olyphant. The man exudes coolness, confidence, and absolute badassery. Justified went off the air eight years ago and Olyphant hasn’t lost a step, even journeying his talents to the Galaxy Far Far Away. Along for the ride is his real-life daughter Vivian and their chemistry is perfect. While some might get uppity about nepotism, in this case, that kind of natural kinship, love, and tension was essential for their father/dynamic dynamic. And just like seasons past, this series is only as good as its villain and Holbrook gives another excellent turn as an out-of-control baddie with Adelaide Clemens as Sandy caught in his wake. Vondi Curtis-Hall pops in as a bar owner with a shady past, and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor shines as Carolyn Wilder, Mansell’s lawyer caught in the middle of his schemes and our favorite lawman.
In truth, my only complaint for this series comes in the form of bloat. At eight episodes, it’s probably two episodes too long. Much like my torso, some of the middle is a little long, flabby, and just not as tight and exciting as the rest of the show. Some pieces of backstory are interesting, but not necessary to see when the inference of history is already established. Why show what’s already been talked about and discussed? At least two episodes of time could be cut without missing a beat as the show speeds into its rousing conclusion.
Now the trick for this season was the source novel, City Primeval. It wasn’t a Givens story, but it fit. Originally the novel followed Detroit Detective Raymond Cruz working the case. It’s been ages since I read the book but when they announced it was going to be the basis for this series return, I felt Givens was a perfect character fit. Key plot points were covered nicely and the show even ends on a tantalizing final note. Will we see more Justified? Possibly, the final surprise cameo (if you haven’t been reading the internet, it’s a big one!) certainly suggests some big possibilities for more episodes. Hell even the “Season One” stenciled over the Blu-ray case art suggests there’s more to come but so far nothing has been confirmed. Maybe they can make room for Michael Keaton’s Ray Nicollete and tie the series to Jackie Brown and Out of Sight? Now that’d be something!
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Justified: City Primeval can sit beside the rest of your Raylan Givens collection on Blu-ray. The series is spread over two BD-50 discs housed in a standard two-disc case. Each disc loads to a static image main menu with basic navigation options.
While I wouldn’t mind seeing Justified in 4K someday, I am happy to see the series’ strong turn on Blu-ray continue with City Primeval Season One. In 1080p, details are crisp and clear with clean lines. Facial features, clothing textures, and all of the Chicago locations standing in for Detroit look pretty great. In fact, that’s really my only complaint with the series. As someone who’s spent long years living in both cities, you can tell when a production is faking Detroit - A for effort though. The colors are nice and splashy moving from bright daylight scenes to dark casino floors to the black back alleys. Skin tones are healthy without issue. Black levels are nice and inky giving the image a better sense of depth than what I saw streaming the series during its original run.
On the audio side, each episode fires away with a strong DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. Given the slick verbiage, dialog is always clean and clear. Between Olyphant and Holbrook there are a lot of great one-liners and that snappy Leonard cadence is on full display. Music cues from composer Mark Isham as well as the pop tunes from The Sparks, Hozier, Dwight Yoakam, and even Boyd Holbrook doing his best White Stripes impression all sound great. Sound effects are well prioritized giving the soundscape plenty of activity to keep the channels working. No dud in the bunch.
Series revivals are all the rage these days. Some shows see welcome returns while others should have left it where things ended. In the case of Justified: City Primeval, despite some mid-season bloat, the return of Raylan Givens was welcome indeed. Elmore Leonard’s famed lawman still has plenty to show for himself. If this is where the series ends (again) it’s a fine finale, but there’s still room for more. The A/V for this Blu-ray release is sharp and on point but sadly there are no extras to buttress the offering. If you’re a fan of the series, make some room on your shelf next to the big box set - Recommended