With “Hunted,” Cinemax moves into more mature original programming

Melissa George plays Sam Hunter in Cinemax's original series, "Hunted."When Strike Back and Femme Fatales premiered, ushering in Cinemax‘s foray into original programming, they seemed like exactly the kinds of shows Cinemax would come up with. The production values, acting and story lines were improved, but they fit right into the lineup of a network derisively (or affectionately) known as Skinemax. They took the formula of shameless titillation and added slam-bang action, with stellar results.

But with Hunted, which premieres tonight at 10pm, Cinemax seems to have grown up a bit. Yes, you’ll still get some side boob (and more) here and there, but this atmospheric spy thriller is deadly serious about its story. Calling it a female version of the Bourne films isn’t terribly far off, with Melissa George starring as Sam Hunter, who returns to work for a private intelligence firm one year after surviving an orchestrated attempt on her life. She’s been completely out of touch in that time, and when she comes back she’s not sure whom she can trust, worrying that the attack may have come from one of her coworkers. But there are even more immediate concerns as she must go under deep cover for her next assignment, one that has her living in the house of some very dangerous people.

George is a quality lead, grim and confident, and believable whether she’s tenderly caring for a young boy or kicking someone’s ass. The stellar supporting cast includes Adam Rayner, Stephen Dillane, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Morven Christie and Lex Shrapnel (which apparently is a real name). The eight episodes are full of tension, twists and explosive action. As Cinemax moves into less Skinemax-y fare, Hunted probably will be remembered as an important step in the process.


Photo: Credit: Giles Keyte/Cinemax