Ever thought about starting over? Wanted to avoid your past coming back to haunt you? How about completely remaking yourself settle a debt? That’s exactly what con man Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) Josipovic does when he takes his cellmate, Pete Murphy’s identity. After hearing story after story of Pete’s grandparents idyllic farm Marius decides to try and swindle them under Pete’s identity.
He needs to settle a 100,000 debt with crooked cop Vince (played by executive producer Bryan Cranston) who took Marius’s brother Eddie as collateral to work at his poker den. Marius believes that the con should be fairly quick. However, things become much more complicated than they appear.
I watch enough television where I’m usually able to predict a lot of a series plot within the first fifteen minutes. What is brilliant about Sneaky Pete is that it treats the viewer a bit like they are the mark, revealing the con little by little, while using side stories of characters as a distraction from the real issue. This is highlighted by the exceptional casting of the Murphy family as well as Ribisi. Who is able to carry the show’s twists and turns with such depth and pain that Amazon should be thanking him for not needing to budget in an Emmy campaign. Margo Martindale continues to steal every scene she is in as the family Matriarch Audrey. Her relationship with Otto (Peter Gerety), the patriarch and his downward health spiral adds a wonderful depth to the characters that makes the viewers empathize on multiple levels. Throughout the course of the season the viewer sees the whole ensemble (including a standout performance by the youngest Murphy child Carley played by newcomer Libe Barer) grapple with everything from familial strife to warring businesses.
Bryan Cranston is no stranger to playing morally flawed characters. He plays the villain Vince with a sadness and loneliness that allows the character not to become a caricature. The plot and dialogue moves forward swiftly, at some points it reflects the traditional tongue in cheek nature of heist movies where Marius’s true identity almost gets revealed to the Murphy family. Like those old movies, the slick anti-hero always manages to stay safe. The tension is maintained so well that at some points I didn’t know if I wanted to keep watching or turn it off.
The series is incredibly refreshing, with great writing and an even better cast. The plot and pacing starts out quick and is able to maintain it’s twists and turns right up to the final shot. I would definitely recommend Sneaky Pete, though be careful because it might consume your whole weekend!
Sneaky Pete is available to stream on Amazon Prime with a subscription.