Fallout (2024 Prime Video) 

By: Rachel Brodeur

Gamers can delight as Fallout (Prime Video) joins the latest in video game adaptations on the screen. Fans of the decades old role-playing game series will appreciate seeing nods to the source material in the form of hidden bobble heads and familiar nostalgic radio. Three of the series’ eight episodes are directed by  Jonathan Nolan,  acclaimed creator of HBO Max Series Westworld, writer of other sci-fi and fantasy properties like Interstellar and The Dark Knight and brother of Academy Award-Winning Director Christopher Nolan .  The story, told partially in flashback, captures the retro-future world where the reality of nuclear threats were equally matched with people’s perpetual optimism in technology. The Fallout society was forced underground into a complex system of what they call vaults in order to evade nuclear disaster. The series joins one of these vault dwellers over 200 years after a major nuclear event when she must venture to the surface.    

The real strength of the show is in its visuals. Nolan uses bright colors and 1950s flair directly against the barren terrain, and there are moments where the bleakness of the post-nuclear landscape is actually beautiful. That same contrast is also observed in the main protagonist Lucy, played by Ella Purnell (Yellowjackets). Her optimism stands out against the jaded reality of the people she encounters. Lucy is charming, courageous and easy to root for. However, Lucy’s story is ultimately less compelling than the mystery around the character Cooper Howard, played by veteran actor Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight, Justified)

Fallout fails to captivate in the way its genre predecessor The Last of Us (2023) did. Where the HBO Max hit managed to forge strong character bonds and generate actual humanity out of former NPCs (non-playing characters), Fallout favors flash over substance. The 1950s nostalgia, alongside biomechanical suits of armor and the addition of the Wild West vigilantism leaves the show’s vision muddled and indistinct. The show does not shy away from its violent roots and handles the often brutal encounters with a stylized desensitized pace.  The violence is without emotional consequence, as the nudity is without romance. It is in this lack of emotional depth where Fallout inevitably falls short. Fallout is a franchise about the protective vaults under Earth’s surface, and while this episodic interpretation is stylish and fun, it is a shame it didn't push a little further beyond being just surface. 

Rachel’s Rating: 7/10  Fallout is fun, fast-paced and does well in bringing the post-apocalyptic retro future world to life on the small screen. But take it for what it is, because while it has style it falls short on emotional depth and character development.