Review of rare Netflix misfire: Warrior Nun

Set in Spain, the series makes the baffling decision to have its entire European cast speak in English, a decision that is never not odd through the entirety of the first season.

Warrior Nun

Netflix’s Warrior Nun is a rare misfire in the streamer’s vast catalog of young adult-themed shows. The first season of the show is centered on a girl named Ava who comes back to life through the use of a biblical artifact.

The artifact as it turns out belongs to an ancient order of Nuns who are trained to ward off demonic spirits and are gifted with magical abilities. Ava’s new life thus comes with new powers and a decision on whether or not she must commit to banding with them.

Language barrier comes to the fore 

Set in Spain, the series makes the baffling decision to have its entire European cast speak in English, a decision that is never not odd through the entirety of the first season. On one hand, it is understandable that the show would want to not limit its audience and allow maximum audience engagement.

On the other, Netflix has had such mind blowing success with its foreign language shows: Dark, Money Heist, The Protector, that the English language just seems bizarre. It is one thing to expect kids speaking to one another in English on the street but when its Nuns speaking to Fathers in English instead of Spanish or Latin discussing ancient texts then it is pretty jarring.

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Now to be fair, many shows and films are known to do this rather then risk alienating viewers who don’t enjoy reading subtitles. But Warrior Nun takes itself so damn seriously, even if it is a show about badass nuns, that this minor detail just adds to my problems with the show.

Simply put, as awesome as the premise of sword-wielding, demon fighting nuns sounds, the show wastes it by trying to righteously be chic rather than tongue in cheek as one would expect. There isn’t too much enjoyment to be found on a series hell-bent on making sure we take everything it says seriously despite its subject matter being so out there.

There’s a sense of fun essential to making a series like this click for audiences and it is wholly absent from this Netflix show. In fact if you are hankering for badass nuns for some inexplicable reason then you might as well turn to BBC’s recent Dracula which mixed the supernatural with biblical imagery to far better results.

Those who devour most supernatural shows might enjoy Warrior Nun for its attempt at being a bigger budget, darker Buffy for Gen Z. Warrior Nun unabashedly recycles old tropes from older supernatural shows but it does set itself apart through its fight sequences. This right here is the one glimmer of hope for the a show that doesn’t have a good writing team.

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The combat sequences, most of which are hand to hand, are good enough for you to sit up and pay attention. The novelty of such great fight sequences on a series, let alone with female characters, doesn’t wear off even at the end of the show.

Fight scenes of Warrior Nun can be improved

If Netflix does decide to greenlight a second season of the series, then they should certainly work on one-upping the fight scenes in the show to truly establish the series as one with great action sequences. The streaming service has already invested a sizable amount on ensuring that the effects in the show used to depict the other worldly creatures are top notch. That money is well spent as the show really does look like a proper movie thanks to its fight choreography and VFX.

 

The show even boasts a talented cast. You would never be able to tell that this is lead Alba Baptista’s first english language role considering how well her command over the language is. Portuguese actress Baptista makes a splash as Ava, being a hero who is both fierce and vulnerable.

Her arc in the series isn’t anything remarkable but she is a great find for Netflix, capable of livening up her scenes despite not being given a great role to begin with. Like everything else with this show, her story of being a disabled orphan who gets a new lease on life after gaining powers and freedom, sounds exhilarating.

Viewers say the TV show could have been better written

However it is just not well written. For all its action, a few moments of character development and a chance to breathe with these characters would have gone a long way. Though we are given brief glimpses into the lives of the strong supporting cast of actors Toya Turner, Thekla Reuten and Tristan Ulloa, you get the feeling that the showrunners are waiting for upcoming seasons to truly do the character work needed for them.

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Despite the presence of promising actors, a good budget and stunt work, Warrior Nun’s sloppily written first season just isn’t the breath of fresh air that one would hope it would be. If the show scratches beneath the surface and delivers a show that is as brave to make fun of itself as it is to take a punch, Warrior Nun may turn out to be something special. For now, it stands as an ordinary show with hints of potential.

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