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If you haven’t read or liked the book, this “Mosquito Coast” has its charms. Justin Theroux and Melissa George, just like Allie and his wife, Margot, work well together. They find new notes in the action movie’s familiar storyline of loving but bickering parents on the run, trying to limit the damage they do to their children. Logan Polish is good as the elder, a girl who is by turns loyal and rebellious.

Mexican places, both rural and urban, are photographed elegantly, sometimes beautifully (albeit somewhat static). The films of Alejandro González Iñárritu may come to mind; the show’s stylistic ambitions are also signaled by visual references to Orson Welles films such as “Touch of Evil” and “The Lady From Shanghai”.

And Cross, who created the series and wrote or co-wrote the first three episodes, is a talented melodramatist who knows how to keep you hooked on a story, even when it starts to let go of reality altogether (like this one on made around episode 4.). The foxes’ flight brings them into contact with federal agents, human traffickers, border militia and drug cartels in a slowly dizzying whirlwind of coincidence and wanton violence.

Most gloomy and entertaining is the arrival of the ever-lively Ian Hart in a skinny black suit and fedora, wielding a straight razor and commanding an army of Mexico City street children. Between the assassinations, he pecks at a novel about a vintage Smith Corona, in what one hopes is a reference to Warren Zevon.

For those who appreciate common sense and normal psychology, the secrets and thrills of Cross’s “Mosquito Coast”, as astute as it is, likely won’t outweigh its general resistance. And the taste for the sinister which he displayed in his British broadcasts is regularly displayed here, in flashes of grotesque dead animals, baroque killing methods and a dead painting from “Silence of the Lambs” .

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