Derren Brown: Sacrifice

3 out of 5

Directed by: Iain Sharkey

While I still miss the days of non-event Derren, I accept (and I think I’ve stated this before) that there’s only so much he can do from that perspective, especially now that he’s a known quantity, and so the magic / mentalism-themed shows are rare, and he otherwise has the budget and desire to stage larger-scale concepts such as Sacrifice.  And for a first American outing (a Netflix original), while I can’t say what the overall effect might be for those new to the man, it makes for passably entertaining TV – mostly thanks to Derren’s charm as a presenter – with its obvious political message smartly downplayed and applied to something more general.  For any Brown fans, it’s also completely predictable; in taking a self-serving man and doing the psychological hoodoo to convince him to take a bullet for someone, it follows patterns we’ve seen before, but this also didn’t feel as forced as other other variants on this experiment, and was tainted (in a good way) with more realism than some of his “you should appreciate life!” moralistic adventures.

In, perhaps, a bid to maintain a slim short-attention-span American runtime, the special feels stripped of some extra buildup and detail, but the flip of that is that we didn’t get anything that felt like it was besides the point; it was setup and execution, start to finish.

Always happy to see Derren, and maybe the Americas will give him some new motivations for applying his skillset.