Sense8 Season 1 available June 5 on Netflix.
At some point Andy and Lana Wachowski will probably stop deserving the benefit of the doubt for The Matrix. That point might very well be the sibling filmmakers’ dreadful new Netflix series Sense8, a dull and ponderous sci-fi drama that lacks even the visual flair and grandeur of their film failures (Speed Racer, Jupiter Ascending, the Matrix sequels). The Wachowskis movie Sense8 most closely resembles is Cloud Atlas, the sprawling set of interconnected tales that spanned continents and generations. But Sense8 is a sort of scaled-back, blander version, spanning continents but not time periods and connecting the fairly mundane lives of eight people with a mysterious psychic connection.
The three episodes available for review are agonizingly slow-paced, revealing almost nothing about the nature of the characters’ strange powers. The enigmatic Jonas (Lost’s Naveen Andrews) shows up every so often to briefly warn about dangerous forces, but otherwise, the characters go about their business, occasionally catching glimpses of each other’s lives. Their individual stories are full of cheesy melodrama, especially when the Wachowksis and co-creator J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) insert some admirable but clumsy efforts at social commentary.
The show is clearly meant to be epic and profound, but it ends up more like Heroes with some extra swearing and explicit sex. It’s a worldwide story that manages to look and feel completely mundane, with boring visuals and inconsistent performances, and anyone waiting for the Wachowskis to retake their “visionaries” label may finally have to give that up.