For its fifth season on Cinemax (the sixth season overall), Strike Back has received a major reboot. The show feels fresh and new, but still maintains the fun and action-packed excitement of the previous seasons. Cinemax’s fifth season of the series features an all new cast, and instead of centering around two male soldiers performing covert missions, we’ve now got two male and two female soldiers at the helm. When the series last left off, Section 20 had been shut down. Now Colonel Adeena Donovan (Nina Sosanya) has decided to resurrect the covert military intelligence and counter terrorism group in order to take down international terrorist/arms dealer/jihadist Omari Idrisi (Don Hany) and his British-born wife Jane Lowry (Katherine Kelly). Donovan’s first recruit is Sergeant Thomas ‘Mac’ McAllister (Warren Brown), who currently faces a court marshal for punching a superior officer after a botched mission got his entire team killed while trying to hand-off Idrisi. Donovan sends Mac on a one man mission to rescue/recruit American JSOC soldier Sergeant Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson), who was on a deniable mission when things went dark and he was captured by the Libyan National Army. Mac manages to find and free Wyatt, but as the guys are trying to escape, they find themselves stranded in the desert, where they meet the tough LCpl. Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata), the third member of the new Section 20. When they return to their secret headquarters, The Crib, the group meets the final member of their team, Captain Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee), along with behind-the-scenes tech guy LCpl. Will Jensen (Phil Dunster).
Much like previous seasons, there is an overall arc to the season, but each pair of episodes acts almost like its own two-part feature-length mission. Each time the group manages to find and infiltrate their targets, something happens and Lowry and/or Idrisi manage to get away. So the group constantly find themselves following a new link in the chain—whether that’s the money, the buyers, or the weapons—in hopes that they will help lead them to the terrorists. Over the course of the season, some of the missions Section 20 will face include locating an arms dealer in Libya, infiltrating a MMA fight club/white supremacist group in Budapest, stopping a virus from being unleashed in Russia, breaking a prisoner out of a black ops site in Poland, and stealing intel from a secure data center in Croatia.
I really enjoyed this first season with the new cast. With four main characters instead of just two, it allows the show to expand a bit more, such as having two concurrent missions, or two of team members going undercover while the others provide backup or surveillance. When the team splits up, it tends to be the guys on one mission and the women on the other—and often the girls coming to the rescue when the guys get into trouble. There is a fun chemistry and interplay between the characters that develops quite quickly. Mac and Wyatt have this love/hate buddy relationship that is not unlike that between Scott and Stonebridge in the previous seasons. And the women are just as tough as the guys—there is this amazing one-shot in episode 5 where Gracie clears out a corridor of attackers who are coming at her from both directions.
I was a little worried when I first started the season that it didn’t seem like there were any true stakes going on. Our main soldiers often find themselves stuck in a jam with impossible odds, only to miraculously make it out unscathed every time. However, by the end of the season, the stakes are definitely ratcheted up, and feel real.
The reboot is just as explosive and action-packed as the previous seasons, if not more-so. It has that same blend of non-stop action, mixed with humor, and moments of good character drama and development. Over the course of the season, we also learn more about the backstories of the main characters, and their motivations and reasons for joining Section 20. And seeing as this is a Cinemax show, there is also the seemingly-required gratuitous nudity or sex scene in each episode.
Since this is a reboot and we are following new characters, the viewer certainly doesn’t need to have seen the previous seasons to jump right into Cinemax’s fifth season of Strike Back—much like how Cinemax’s first season was a major reboot from the first UK season. However, for those who watched the previous seasons, there’s a fun guest appearance by Scott and Stonebridge towards the end of the season. It was not only great to see these characters return, but also that it was held off until later in the season in order to allow viewers to get to know and enjoy the new characters first before bringing the original duo back into the mix.
This Blu-ray release looks and sounds amazing. The picture looks pristine—it is clean, detailed and has no trace of grain, no matter what conditions the soldiers find themselves in. Section 20 travels all over on their missions, and no matter where they end up, the locales look beautiful. The audio track is also quite impressive, fully immersing the viewer in the action and the constant firefights that seem to break out. Gunfire and explosions can be heard from every direction, while dialogue remains clear throughout the season.
The season is split across three Blu-ray discs, which are packed in a standard multi-disc HD keepcase without a slipcover. Inside is a sheet with digital copy redemption instructions. The discs contain a small assortment of bonus features, including short introductions to the characters and the season, as well as the cast/director talking about the highlights of each episode.
- All 10 episodes of Cinemax’s Fifth Season, Strike Back: Retribution, the sixth season of the series overall
Disc 1: Episodes 41-43
Disc 2: Episodes 44-46
Disc 3: Episodes 47-50
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS Digital Surround 5.1, Spanish DTS Digital Surround 2.0
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
- Ultraviolet Digital HD Copy redeemable via Vudu or FandangoNow.
- HD Digital Copy redeemable via iTunes or Google Play.
- The New Team (3:16)
Play All, or select from:
- Section 20: New Characters (1:44)
The new cast members talk about their characters—Warren Brown (“Sgt. Thomas McAllister”), Alin Sumarwata (“L/Cpl. Gracie Novin”), Roxanne McKee (“Capt. Natalie Reynolds”), and Daniel MacPhereson (“Sgt. Samuel Wyatt”).
- Section 20: New Tactics (1:31)
Director/executive producer MJ Bassett and the cast talk about some of the changes from previous seasons—increasing the team to four members, shooting in new locations, and amping up the action and fire power.
- Section 20: New Characters (1:44)
- Strike Back Season 5: Declassified (20:48)
The director and cast talk about some of the highlights of each episode. Participants include director/executive producer MJ Bassett, and stars Alin Sumarwata, Warren Brown, Daniel MacPhereson, and Roxanne McKee. These features can be found on the same disc as the related episodes, and each disc contains a Play All option.
- Episode 41 Declassified (1:46)
Topics include the towel scene, teaming up loners Wyatt and Mac, and the chase scene in the desert.
- Episode 42 Declassified (2:01)
Topics include flying on the Blackhawk, running from the tunnel/explosion, and the car escape scene.
- Episode 43 Declassified (1:53)
Topics include Mac stabbing Wyatt, filming in Budapest, and the MMA fight scenes.
- Episode 44 Declassified (1:36)
Topics include hanging from a noose, rolling vehicles on fire, and a gunfight in the water treatment plant.
- Episode 45 Declassified (2:08)
Topics include the hearse chase, going face-to-face with Jane Lowry, and the one-take corridor fight.
- Episode 46 Declassified (2:10)
Topics include the relationship between Gracie & Jensen, the Maya scene, and shooting the pool fight.
- Episode 47 Declassified (1:51)
Topics include Jensen’s assault, what the return of Idrisi means for Mac, and Wyatt’s relationship with Lila and how that affects his decisions.
- Episode 48 Declassified (2:26)
Topics include being electrocuted, shooting in the underground tunnels, the return of Idrisi, and Donovan’s cover-up actions.
- Episode 49 Declassified (2:16)
Topics include the return of Scott and Stonebridge, the shootout on the motorway, Reynolds’ tough decision, and Wyatt’s bell tower revenge.
- Episode 50 Declassified (2:41)
Topics include the return of Scott and Stonebridge, the Idrisi fight, working in the rain, and where Section 20 is at the end of the season.
- Episode 41 Declassified (1:46)
Bonus material is spread across all three discs.
In its fifth season on Cinemax, Strike Back continues to be a fun, action-packed popcorn show. This latest season reboots the series, changing up the central dynamic to four new main characters. Longtime fans of the series may miss Scott and Stonebridge, but I enjoyed this latest season just as much as the previous ones—the series is able to maintain the same fun and exciting tone of the previous seasons, and the new characters provide an interesting and entertaining new dynamic. There is just as much action and humor as before, if not more so, given that the size of the team has doubled. There is not only an interesting overall arc to the season, but this flows nicely into the bi-weekly missions faced by the new Section 20. This season comes highly recommended for those looking for a fun action show.