Review by Sean Boelman
FUBAR has been teased as action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “long-awaited” first role in television. Although no one was likely clamoring for this before it was made, those who met its announcement with excitement should temper their expectations, as it’s a lame, only occasionally enjoyable outing that doesn’t take advantage of its stars’ talent.
The show follows a CIA operative who, on the eve of his retirement, discovers that his daughter has secretly been an operative herself and requires his help on what may end up being one of his biggest missions yet. It’s a mix of action-comedy and family comedy, and while this should be a formula for fun, it ends up being shockingly unpleasant.
Early on in the series, there are some writing decisions made that range from questionable to downright baffling. Of the more head-scratching variety are lines like one that seems to casually assert Schwarzenegger is a decade younger than he actually is. On the more annoying end are countless puns related to iconic quotes from the action star, like numerous shoehorned-in exclamations of “CHOPPA!”
If FUBAR were a two-hour feature length film, it would have likely been pretty enjoyable. Unfortunately, at eight episodes — most of which are pushing an hour in length each — the story stretches itself thin very quickly. The international espionage plot is simply too basic and formulaic, and it can’t sustain such a bloated length.
Schwarzenegger is absolutely eating up his role, which is part of what makes it so confusing that the series otherwise feels uninspired. Even when the one-liners he is being asked to deliver are completely cringe-worthy, the Governator brings 100% authenticity to the role and manages to get a laugh most of the time.
As for the rest of the ensemble, they end up being almost as enjoyable as the A-lister lead. Milan Carter is the biggest breakout as the man in the chair to Schwarzenegger’s superspy, but Fortune Feimster and Travis Van Winkle also have some funny moments as sidekicks. Gabriel Luna also gives an enjoyable villainous turn as the (admittedly generic) international arms dealer. Only Monica Barbaro and Jay Baruchel feel completely underused, although Barbaro does have pretty great chemistry with Schwarzenegger.
While one would hope that the series offers Schwarzenegger plenty of action sequences harkening back to his good ol’ days of the height of his career, there’s really only one or two of these in the entire series. He’s gotten old — there’s no way around that — but an unnecessarily CGI-filled spectacle like this is *not* the way to prove that he’s still got it.
Ultimately, Schwarzenegger has remained a cultural icon for many years at this point — there’s absolutely no reason that he should have to resort to lame nostalgia bait like this chasing relevancy that he (however unexpectedly) still has. There has certainly been worse content on Netflix than FUBAR, but what makes it disappointing is how fun it could (and should) have been.
FUBAR is now streaming on Netflix.