The main problem, and it’s a big one, is that there really isn’t anyone here to like or to put down roots for. Certainly not Theroux ‘fox, who pulls his teenagers (Logan Polish, Gabriel Batemen) into dangerous situations, or his wife Margot (Melissa George), who, despite all her tortured expressions, is more than a little complicit in the ordeal.
Nor are the children themselves particularly personable, although the cruelty of their plight feels heightened by the situation of the 21st century by withholding items like cell phones and making Allie’s control over them feel better in a doomsday way. When the federal agent (Kimberly Elise) tracking her asks the daughter, “Why is he making you live the way you do?”, This is a question that is not helpful throughout the exercise.
Cross basically joins the ongoing story with the foxes on the run from the government, which gives the story a more spy-like feel as the family has to drop everything and begin their pilgrimage through the desert.
Harrison Ford starred as the wild-eyed inventor in the 1986 film, and despite his defense of the film, he was one of its few eye-catching box office hits during those years. While the seven-episode streaming format offers the opportunity to refine the story and characters, the net effect of all cloak-and-dagger gimmicks doesn’t, as Allie and his clan have run-ins with US militia members up to Mexicans are affected drug cartels, which usually jump from the desert frying pan straight into the fire.
Theroux and George bring considerable intensity to their roles, but some of the supporting characters have an almost caricature quality. Aside from giving Allie a well-deserved talk on American imperialism and his short-sighted self-absorption, Cross presents this eccentric figure without shedding much light on what he is rebelling against or the roots of his cause.
In all fairness, there may never have been a right time for something like “The Mosquito Coast,” but amid the current plethora of conspiracy theories, this strikingly feels like the wrong one. The bottom line is that Apple has produced a series that not only doesn’t get under your skin, but mostly just makes you want to knock it off.
“The Mosquito Coast” premieres on April 30th on Apple TV +.