Like most people, I am fascinated by spy movies. All the double-dealing and drama really makes for some great entertainment. So when I got wind of Queen Sono, to say I was intrigued would have been an understatement. More than that it was a South African production. For too long has our local content stuck to soapie styled drama and it’s hit and misses with sitcom. This is South Africa’s first-ever original series and it goes out to an international audience. Production quality is far superior to anything we have seen before locally.
Sono takes us straight into the life of its titular character. Soon Sono has us wrapped up in the lies and betrayals of espionage. However, James Bond, this is not. It isn’t filled with over the top action sequences but rather a more grounded take on the real spy world. Yes, spies exist and it isn’t always glamour and sex. In fact, that’s what I like most about this. James Bond never bats an eye as he lives out his escapades. Sono, on the other hand, is as real as a spy we shall ever see.
Pearl Thusi pulls off a superb performance as an international woman of mystery. She has that uber confidence that just commands screen presence. In just a few episodes she really does give a lot of range to her character. She goes from hard-knock gal to broken in moments. There are some really touching moments in her life. The quiet moments she spends with her gran actually grounds the show in the best possible way. However, my favorite is a simple shower integration scene.
The thing I love about Queen Sono is that it shows a lot of the other side of being a spy. Sure there have been a few films over the years that expose some of this. But Sono really drives it home. It shows us how the life they lead impacts them on a personal level. Having the South African flair to it adds an extra dimension and unique flavor that only Mzanzi can deliver. The show also tries to cleverly utilize current local political trends as plot threads across the show. And there are some really brilliant moments that truly reflect the underbelly of South Africa.
The show does have some drawbacks, mostly the lack of futuristic tech. The best part about spy movies is always cool gadgets and gizmos. Sure, this is meant as a grounded interpretation of the spy world but surely some real ultra-modern tech could have been introduced. I know missile-armed Aston Martins my not be feasible but how about a pen that shoots a tranquilizing dart.
The show takes some time to truly find its feet, but when it does it pulls you right in. I would like to see this show grow into season two with a bigger budget and maybe some international locations. It has great potential. Having the female as the badass lead doesn’t hurt either. Catch it on Netflix.