The Big Cigar

The Big Cigar

This miniseries about Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton succeeds as a heist, but fails as a meaningful biopic

6.0

TV Show

United States of America
English
Drama
2024
Alessandro Nivola, Andre Holland, Glynn Turman

TLDR

It tries so hard to steer clear from being another Hollywood-glorified white savior story, that it ends up being that exact same thing it avoids.

What it's about

Loosely based on true events, The Big Cigar follows Huey P. Newton (André Holland) as he flees from California to Cuba with the help of bigshot Hollywood producer Bert Schneider (Alessandro Nivola).

The take

As a heist story, The Big Cigar is a fast-paced caper that’s easy on the eyes. It’s slickly edited and richly designed, and the actors turn in exciting performances that make you want to tune in. But as a biopic of a complex man, The Big Cigar is confounding at best and frustrating at worst. It zips through many things that Newton publicly struggled with, including drug addiction and the very allegation that caused him to flee to Cuba in the first place. Though it brings up important discussions about revolutionary struggle and emancipation, it’s ultimately more interested in the heist itself, which while admittedly engaging, feels less urgent than the events surrounding Newton’s real life.

What stands out

Jumping back and forth between multiple timelines can be a creative way to tell a story in some instances. Other times, it can be painfully annoying, which is sadly the case here. Also, if the show was genuinely interested in telling this story from the Black Panthers' perspective, then Gwen Fontaine's character (played by Tiffany Boone) deserved better than this.

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