Hit & Run
Artists First, 2021
Avi Issacharoff, Dawn Prestwich, and Lior Raz
📷 : Used with permission, Netflix
Suspenseful and intense thrillers
Mysteries or whodunnits
Some people follow the old wisdom to accept things as they are, rather than digging around to find what’s hidden beneath them. Others, though, feel quite differently – that it is better to know the truth even if it hurts. Netflix puts this question front and center with Hit & Run, a 9-part series about a man desperate to know what happened to his wife, a professional dancer who was killed in a suspicious hit and run accident. And thanks to his military background, Segev Azulay, played by the series’ co-creator Lior Raz (Fauda, 6 Underground), has the skills to handle anyone who gets in his way of finding the truth about Danielle’s death.
We realize something is awry early in the series, as Danielle “Dani” Azulay, played by Kaelen Ohm (Taken, Flint), prepares to leave their home in Israel for an audition in New York City. She seems distant and is frequently distracted by messages coming through on her mobile. While he clearly adores his wife, Segev, who is intense and high-energy, doesn’t seem to notice. When he bids her goodbye as she heads to the airport, he takes Ella, his 10-year old daughter from his first marriage, to school and goes straight to work as a tour guide. Upon leaving his property, he encounters a man parked by the side of the road just outside of his home, but Segev dismisses his unease when the man explains that he is waiting for someone who is late.
Tali Shapira, Segev’s 30-something cousin played by Moran Rosenblatt (We Were the Lucky Ones, Fauda), is a captain on the police force and helps him in his investigation with mostly off-the-book research. Although she is in the third trimester of her pregnancy, she wears a gun holster around her waist, drives and crashes cars in chase scenes, and throws bad guys up against walls. Her toughness and tenacity as a woman so far along in her pregnancy make her casting unusual but likely deliberate.
Women, especially white women who are pregnant, are typically depicted in cinema as fragile, often ending up in the hospital because a fall, faint, or sneeze put either the baby or the mom in distress. “The Waiting Room” episode in This is Us when Chrissy Metz’s character goes into premature labor is an example of this. Another is when Kim Raver’s character suffers a pregnancy complication in the “Add it Up” episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I could go as far back as the ‘80s with the movie, She’s Having a Baby, and the ‘90s with the “What Child is This?” episode of The Practice, but I won’t. In Hit & Run, Tali challenges this representation, as she even endures an explosion and comes away with just a few cuts and bruises and her unborn child still active in her belly. Perhaps a bit unrealistic. But while not the central character in Hit & Run, Tali is by far the most dynamic and interesting one.
The Hebrew dialog in the series is overdubbed in English, making Hit & Run an easier watch than shows with subtitles, where we are tasked with reading while trying to watch what is happening on screen. The weather throughout the series is cool and perpetually overcast, likely to remind us of the somber circumstances. Also perpetual is Segev’s scowl. This is quite distinct from a look of sadness, but it hints at gender differences in how we handle grief. Though researchers emphasize that grieving can be a blend of emotional and physical displays, they acknowledge that women tend to talk with others while men express grief physically. Segev’s response to Dani’s death is unquestionably the latter. Indeed, it would have been refreshing to see him as a more complex character with a blend of emotion and physicality in the handling of his wife’s death. Instead, his character reinforces the traditional gender stereotypes around grieving.
In addition to Segev’s overwhelming grief, Dani’s death sets into motion home invaders, where we see Segev display his fighting skills, explosions, and confrontations with the police because they “still don’t have any answers.” Eventually, his need for the truth takes him from his home in Israel to New York City, where he enlists Ron, his longtime friend and former military buddy, for help. Ron, who is down on his luck but enthusiastic about reuniting with Segev, provides him with weapons and accompanies him on his mission. Curiously though, he is surprised when Segev’s tactics for extracting information get out of hand. This inconsistency in the show is never explained.
The show also stars Sanaa Latham as Naomi, an accomplished journalist for a high-end investigative magazine and Segev’s close friend. As with his cousin Tali and friend Ron, Segev enlists Naomi’s help in understanding the circumstances surrounding Dani’s death. Initially reluctant because she fears he will go off the rails in his coercive techniques, as he did often when they were in Mexico, she nonetheless goes down the rabbit hole with him in the investigation.
In addition to the ending, the show leaves some holes. For example, the story begins in Israel, where Segev and Dani live in a rustic setting on a big, beautiful piece of property that includes a large home. Although he is a former Israeli soldier, it is unclear how his present self-employment as a tour guide generates the means to own such a large piece of real estate. This is never explained, but perhaps it is from the ill-gotten gains reaped during his stint in Mexico that is alluded to during his talks with Ron and Naomi.
Another question concerns the repeating of Segev’s name. Each character states his name a minimum of three times during every exchange. It is as if the creators want to emphasize his character as the lead in the show, or that they’re concerned we will forget his name while watching it. This becomes obvious and annoying as the show moves on. Think about it. How many times do you name-drop during a 3-minute conversation?
Hit & Run is comparable to The Agent, a Netflix series about a CIA agent working with his protectee to uncover who killed her aunt and uncle in their home and why. Both productions blend action and politics to render an intriguing story. As a whodunnit, action-filled, international thriller, Hit & Run offers a few surprises in the things uncovered about Dani and the circumstances surrounding her death. Nonetheless, the findings of the investigations in Hit & Run, leave us questioning if all the death, destroyed lives, and lives placed at risk were worth the truth, or if Segev should have just left well-enough alone. I don’t know. Could you?