Nolan and Abrams Gain TV ‘Interest’

Imagine this: Every movement you make in every second of every day is recorded by thousands of cameras surrounding you without your knowledge. Even as you read this article, pause and look around; you will see surveillance cameras, mobile phones, laptops and MP3 players, all which have the capability of storing your personal data. In such a technology-dependent world, it seems plausible that any crime committed can be traced straight back to the perpetrator.

But what if we could stop the crime from happening? J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan explore the possibilities to this question with their new CBS show “Person of Interest.” Both of these men bring plenty of experience and critical acclaim: Abrams is known for creating “Alias,” “Lost,” and “Fringe,” while Nolan brings an excellent screenwriting resume that includes “The Prestige” and “The Dark Knight.” With these names at the helm, the show already has a high level of expectations, but with such an engaging theme, the creators have already won half the battle. The show has had the “highest test ratings of any drama pilot in 15 years,” according to CBS.

In the show, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) plays a former CIA field officer presumed dead by the world. Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) is a multimillionaire software engineer who has been tracking Reese, and Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) works for the NYPD after having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of them are unknowingly connected to each other.

After working in the service for so long, John finds it difficult to adjust to normal life back home. As a result, he almost ends up homeless on the streets of New York trying to drink himself to death.

Along comes the mysterious millionaire Mr. Finch, who hires John to do special “jobs.” Finch had helped develop an artificial intelligence computer, which was instated after 9/11 to detect terrorist attacks before they happen. Apart from helping to find terrorists, the machine detects “irrelevant” information ― the identities of people involved in future violent crimes. The program, however, cannot distinguish whether the identified person will be a victim, perpetrator or witness of a crime.

Every day, the computer gives out a series of Social Security numbers that Finch gains access to through a backdoor he created. The numbers are generated based on videos, messages, emails and telephone recordings of every single person with a Social Security number in the United States (though so far in the series its range is limited to New York).

Finch then hands the numbers of to Reese, whose job, then, is to prevent the crime from taking place. With Reese’s experience as a serviceman and Finch’s expertise with computers, both men team up to find out why a person is a target before it is too late, with only the numbers as their leading clues.

Meanwhile, Detective Carter tries her best to lay her hands on the “lone man in a coat” who is going around New York City killing criminals without police permission and disrupting the police system. She definitely has an ulterior motive, which should reveal itself in the later episodes.

That is the basic premise of “Person of Interest.” Sound familiar? Hell yeah. It feels like “Minority Report” and “Wanted,” to name just a couple of movies. In that sense, the show does not the fit the bill of your usual crime-solving show, but it delves deeper into the psyche of stopping the actual event of a crime.

Abrams and Nolan add flesh and bone to the characters through flashbacks and backstories, but most of the why, what and how of the main plot is still missing. Both men are known for creating seamless plots that transfix and keep audiences guessing till the end.

“Person of Interest” sees Jim Caviezel and Taraji Henson transition from the silver screen to the television screen. They both have had their moment of glory, with “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” respectively, before making the move to television. Michael Emerson, who is best known for playing Benjamin Linus in “Lost,” seems to be a favorite of J.J. Abrams and needs no other introduction. The cast is brilliant, each playing their role with panache. There are even early signs of a possible bromance between Reese and Finch.

As for the plot, there are many questions still to be answered, and the only way to find out is to keep watching. Is this possibly another hit series like “Lost” and “Fringe?” It may be too early to make such predictions, but the show definitely has a lot of cliffhanging moments and action scenes while at the same time focusing on the characters’ stories. The show has only barely begun; there are endless directions as to how the story will progress.

Rating: 4 out of 5