Sugar (2024 Apple TV+) 

By: Rachel Brodeur

The film noir style of Apple TV’s latest detective drama, Sugar, applies a welcome modernity to the classic genre. Star Colin Farrell (Banshees of Inisherin, In Bruges), as compassionate private investigator John Sugar, follows the trail of a missing woman who happens to be the daughter of a wealthy Hollywood producer. While those around the case are unsure if she’s simply away on a drug bender and will turn up eventually, Sugar like any good gumshoe trusts his instincts to dig further into the disappearance. He also lives up to the sweetness of his name in approaching his job with a level of kindness and humanity that is both unexpected and refreshing.

Sugar brings back classic hardboiled detective tropes with high-contrast lighting, jazzy riffs, a gorgeous classic car and Farrell’s gritty interior monologue narration. However, the highlight of the series is in its distinctive editing. Director Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes, The Constant Gardener) utilizes quick cuts in moments of high action, but notably also incorporates microclips from classic Hollywood cinema. One moment the audience will be watching Colin Farrell reach for a glass, and the next it will be Humphrey Bogart taking that swig of whiskey. The culminating effect is a seamless and delightful way to connect him to the greats that came before him. 

The cast of Sugar also features several enigmatic characters played by familiar faces like Kirby (The Good Place, Barry), Dennis Boutsikaris (Better Call Saul), Nate Corddry (For All Mankind), and a femme fatale in Amy Ryan (The Office). Perhaps the show’s only stumbling point is that it takes on too much and wanders too far from its initial life as a detective mystery. While some surprises are good, an audience needs details to make sense, line up, and reveal themselves like pieces of a well-thought out puzzle in order to be satisfied, and Sugar is too abrupt in its unpredictability. Curveballs notwithstanding, Farrell endears himself to viewers as they hope he serves up some just desserts. 

Rachel’s Rating: 7/10  Sugar (Apple TV+) blends modern editing and attitude with the classic dark themes of a film noir detective story in this suspenseful eight episode series. Despite some seemingly disjointed plot structures, the series is strong and Farrell is charming and cool as the lead among a star-studded cast.