Colette NiReamonn Ioannidou

I needed a break from faithfully following the (literal) blood and guts of The Good Doctor so I clicked onto a series set in post-war Germany, landing myself in more gore. The Defeated is a worthy production with its period clothes and sets, and bomb-shattered atmosphere.

Max, an American cop, is on loan to Berlin to train an inexperienced police force in crime investigation. It’s a nightmare landscape where ruthless criminal opportunists like The Angel Maker take advantage of weak and destitute women and girls. Max is also searching for his missing brother, Moritz, AWOL from the US army. Both he and Elsie, his German colleague, are drawn into intrigues incompatible with the work they are supposed to be doing.

Netflix sends out little messages via email suggesting things to watch or asking for a vote on something you’ve seen. It gives the gladiator choice of a thumbs up or down with no grey area in between on which to comment.

Take The Last Mercenary with Jean-Claude Van Damme. When younger, strong and beautiful, he seemed like a total narcissist. As he grew older he began to take himself less seriously and is the better for it. In action sequences, the martial arts expertise is still apparent. The film, though, didn’t engage me; I lost interest.

So, when Netflix asked for an up or a down, I passed. If there had been a comment box I could have said, casting had put a Grand Prix driver in an undistinguished vehicle. Maybe it got better as it went along, but it didn’t grab me and pull me in.

Another of my problems with the streamer is it offers sets of episodes that end, then the continuation episodes that you know are out there, don’t continue here. I see ‘new episodes’ advertised on some selections yet I don’t have them. Some are not available for us according to my phone feed with apparent advice on how to get around ‘restrictions’. I would like to have seen the last of Vikings and The Walking Dead. Line of Duty, a series that ended to record viewing numbers as far as Cyprus is concerned may as well have sailed up the Lagan in a bubble and I was left with only spoilers on my phone telling me who was it.

Netflix does offer variety; I loved The Dig – great cast, lovely story, and I stayed with the serious, if overlong, sci-fi Ad Astra. My son and I, Trekkie fans from way back, often compare the Roddenberry originals with the hybrid sets of offspring that came afterwards, all boldly going strong aboard Netflix. My daughter and I tip each other off to good police procedurals.

Beckett had me for the most part up to the last scenes. Remember those old Kung Fu movies where opponents used to wallop each other for ages and bodies appeared impervious to injury? Some movies ask that you accept actors involved in hideous crashes or carting bullets around in their innards, hobbling upright ‘putting pressure on the bleed’ or rubbing an elbow or walking away with a limp when normally, someone would be calling an undertaker or at least in Beckett’s case, an ambulance. Are we to accept that heroes now are made of rubber instead of flesh and bone and are driven by batteries fuelled by bunny power instead of a human heart?

I can take suspended belief in movies where one expects that as in Katla, an Icelandic series where a volcano suffering a bout of severe dyspepsia spews ash all over the local community, and gurgling in its sticky bowels are resurrected forms of dead people. But, plot spoiler, Beckett baby, you took far more hits than a fairground target and still kept going beyond the bounds of realism, not as a bullets-ping-off-me superhero but as a supposedly ordinary guy.

I also wonder with all the international choices (some dire) why no Irish or Greek series or films? Both Greece and Ireland have a history of film making and could be included in the segment under European cinema. Yes and No are all very well in a courtroom Netflix, but you need to give us that little box. Your viewers are human; what’s in charge of your gladiator thumbs? Human opinion is often all about that grey area where yes and no don’t always suffice. Still, a lot of viewing value for very little.