John Turturro in a scene from TV series The Night Of.
John Turturro in a scene from TV series The Night Of.

Mini series takes on the dark corners of New York justice

NAZ Khan is having a really bad night. One so bad, in fact, that it threatens to derail the rest of his life.

The university student sneaks out with his father's cab to go to a party in New York City, but his plans are derailed when a beautiful, mysterious young woman gets into his cab.

They end up going back to her place, she encourages him to drink shots and take a pill, and he wakes hours later to find her stabbed to death.

He tries to run away from the scene but after a series of blunders and coincidences ends up in police custody.

That's the jumping off point for HBO's new series created by The Wire writer Richard Price and Oscar-winning Schindler's List writer Steven Zaillian.

The eight-part mini-series explores the dark corners of the criminal justice system in New York City.

Riz Ahmed, who will soon be seen in the new Jason Bourne movie as tech mogul Aaron Kalloor, stars as shy Pakistani-American Naz, while John Turturro plays embattled defence attorney Jack Stone.

After playing a plethora of quirky, supporting roles in everything from Transformers to O Brother, Where Art Thou? it's great to see Turturro back in a lead role.

The filmmakers do a great job of building tension in the first episode as you wait for the police to put two and two together and figure out the drunk taxi driver they pulled over for a traffic violation is the same man seen fleeing the crime scene.

Even though it doesn't seem like Naz could hurt a fly, you're internally yelling at him not to make mistake after mistake. He's like a deer in headlights as his world comes crashing down around him.

It's easy to see why the police think they've caught their man: there's a mountain of evidence stacked up against Naz.

Turturro gets some of the best lines as the world-weary but street-smart Stone, who has to go into damage control after lead detective Box (Bill Camp) takes advantage of Naz's naivete.

Like The Wire, this is a story told in shades of grey, where no one is inherently good or bad. From each character's perspective, they're just doing what they think is best and it's the intersection of those competing interests where the heart of the drama lies.

The Night Of premieres tomorrow at 8.30pm on Foxtel's Showcase channel.


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