‘Fallout’ Review: Prime Video Series Ironically Wants To Generate Hatred For Cannibalistic Capitalism


Back in the day, the sound of Hollywood live-action video game adaptations used to give audiences and producers war flashbacks of Super Mario Bros. and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The phenomenon was even referred to as the video game-movie curse, something that seemingly didn’t stop Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil franchise from becoming a raging success. Things started to change when studios began turning video games into animated properties, while the live-action stuff witnessed pretty consistent success in the form of TV shows. Gangs of London, Halo, The Last of Us, and even Twisted Metal were received quite well by audiences and critics. And it’s safe to say that Fallout is yet another slam dunk in this small but high-budget pantheon of serialized live-action adaptations of video games.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan’s Fallout tells the story of a post-apocalyptic Earth where society became retro-futuristic due to the advances in technology after WWII. The Vault-Tec Corporation made these underground bunkers to save people from nuclear attacks, which is something that eventually happens right at the beginning of the series. The narrative then moves forward by around 200 years to focus on Lucy MacLean, who lives in Vault 33, which is connected to Vault 31 and Vault 32. Things go sideways during an arranged marriage ceremony, and Lucy’s father, Hank, is abducted by a raider named Moldaver and her team. So Lucy sets out into the volatile hellscape on her own to rescue her father. During her journey, she comes across Maximus, a member of the religious-military outfit called the Brotherhood of Steel, and an undead, vengeful gunslinger called Cooper Howard, a.k.a. The Ghoul. And as the story progresses, it becomes evident that they are all heading in the same direction.

I am going to be really honest; the first four episodes of Fallout didn’t inculcate any sense of confidence in me about the quality of the show. The writers seemed to be concerned with progressing the plot and moving the characters forward without telling us why we should care for these characters or showing us why these characters are doing what they are doing. The dialogue writing wasn’t egregious, but it was way too basic and emotionless to care about. And the situations that Lucy, Maximus, and The Ghoul kept running into were something that you’d normally expect in a post-apocalyptic setting. That said, after the fifth episode, writers Chaz Hawkins, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Graham Wagner, Karey Dornetto, Kieran Fitzgerald, Carson Mell, and Gursimran Sandhu escalated things so beautifully and freakishly that my jaw figuratively dropped to the floor. I began to empathize with the protagonists because the things they encountered were so bizarre. In addition to that, the realization started to set in that this fictional future is probably not too far away.

Without courting too much controversy, I want to point out that several multinational corporations are funding genocides that are being conducted by religiously motivated military outfits so that they can construct outlets on the ground that are laced with the bones of the oppressed. This is not sci-fi. This is the reality that we are living in right now. And it’s mind-numbing. So, I think it’s impressive that a show like Fallout can cut through that layer of desensitization and highlight how cannibalistic capitalism can become if corporations and armies that function like religious cults are given free reign to decide the future of humanity. But, much like how boycotts are forcing bloodthirsty CEOs to walk back on their decision to take part in a genocide and pushing bigoted warmongerers to seethe, the series shows that as long as a handful of peace-loving but rebellious souls exist to fight for a future without borders made of caste, creed, race, or religion, we won’t be a lost cause. That is an important message to send out into the world because the number of people who are willing to put down their lives to support soulless businessmen, religious extremists, or a combination of both is increasing. The irony is that all this is coming from a show streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Much like the writing of the first four episodes of Fallout, I wasn’t vibing with its direction as well. To be clear, the scale and scope of the show, the visual effects, the special effects, the production design, the costume design, the make-up—everything was top-notch. But it seemed like a demonstration of what you can get in a live-action adaptation of a popular game if you have a bottomless pool of money. It’s only after the fifth episode that the pacing, the tone, and the storytelling became engaging. What seemed like convenient ways to avoid any stakes began to look like the clever use of game mechanics, e.g., the severed fingers and the energy-replenishing potions. I won’t say that it’s an action-packed show, even though there are quite a few action scenes in every episode because, unlike video games, it never really tries to immerse you in those moments. The only set piece that really stayed with me is where The Ghoul took out a bunch of Brotherhood fanatics in a corridor that was only lit by the flashes from the guns. The editing, the shot choices, and the build-up to that altercation made it really impactful.

That brings us to the acting in Fallout. I genuinely don’t know what Walton Goggins is made of. The level of talent that this man possesses is truly mind-boggling. The casual menace of The Ghoul and the plastic-like ignorance of Cooper Howard are so distinct that if someone told me that those two characters were being played by two different actors, I would’ve believed them. If you look at his filmography, you’ll see how vast and varied his body of work is. And while so many actors become typecast or saturated, this guy continues to evolve and grow. Walton Goggins is awesome. Initially, Ella Purnell didn’t seem like a very compelling protagonist. Her fish-out-of-the-water act felt repetitive. But as the show started to chip away at her pristine veneer and Purnell got to flesh out Lucy, she became incredibly interesting. The same can be said about Aaron Moten, who goes from being a run-of-the-mill jarhead to someone who you can relate with despite their flaws and missteps. The supporting cast is huge. So it’ll be difficult to mention all of their names. But all of them are excellent. Moisés Arias, Johnny Pemberton, Frances Turner, and Sarita Choudhury really stood out. I’m sure they used multiple dogs for the character of CX404, and all of them deserve all the treats and pets. The only casting piece that is in bad taste is that of Michael Rapaport. Yes, it’s a cameo (in a sea of great cameos), but it’s an avoidable cameo, and that’s why it is annoying.

To be very honest, I am seriously shocked at how my opinion of Fallout changed with each episode. At one point, I was ready to write it off as a bad show and use it as an example of Prime Video spending too much on an IP in the hopes of starting yet another franchise. But now I want to watch more seasons of the show and invest in high-end computer equipment so that I can play every installment of the video game. And if that’s not a win for Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and the rest of their brilliant team, I don’t know what is. So, definitely give it a watch. Binge it or take it one episode a day—it’s your choice. I sincerely hope that the show’s anti-capitalism messaging triggers the audience to act responsibly. I think every employee of Amazon, especially those who are operating from their personal ivory towers, should watch the show and unlearn their cannibalistic ways of promoting capitalism. And I pray that, in 2024, people are hit with the realization that Earth is the only home we have, and we shouldn’t destroy it because of some douchebags’ stupid and lofty ambitions.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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