Writers: Heath Corson & Richie Keen
Director: Thor Freudenthal
While reviewing some of the most prominent web series from 2011, I came across a few that were worthless like "Can't Get Arrested" and a few like "Dragon Age: Redemption" that had some skill behind them but they ultimately failed to live up to their potential.
And then there's "Aim High," a web series which I had no expectations about one way or another. Produced by McG's Wonderland for Warner Premiere, "Aim High" features "Twilight" co-star Jackson Rathbone as Nick Green, a high school junior who is also one of 64 underage operatives working for the federal government on top secret missions.
The premise is ludicrous and it makes little to no sense. It's completely implausible… and you won't care about that.
Somehow, writers Heath Corson & Richie Keen and director Thor Freudenthal strike the right tone between comedy and teen angst with some action that makes for an entertaining show. Rathbone is actually pretty engaging as Nick and he's easy to root for. He also happens to be surrounded by some pretty talented co-stars including Clancy Brown as Boris, a former KGB agent whom Nick is assigned to eliminate. Boris is not exactly a deep character, but Brown is a top rate actor and a natural villain. Whatever deficiencies are present in the script are easily superceeded by Brown's performance alone.
At times, "Aim High" even gets dark by exploring some of the shadier things that Nick has to do for his government. During one of Nick's early missions, we see him garrote a man from the backseat of his car, although it cuts away from any lingering gore. The government also has no problem sending a new operative to take out Nick when he stops following their orders.
The occasional action scenes and gun play are well staged and they seem to suggest that "Aim High" had a much higher budget than usual web series fare. However, "Aim High" isn't exempt from some sloppy writing. Boris eventually discovers who Nick is because he left his homework behind when Nick first encountered Boris. Similarly, the mob gets wise to Nick's identity because he doesn't bother to check to see if one of the men he killed succeeded in taking his picture. If Nick is really as good of an agent as he's supposed to be, those were two pretty big and unbelievable lapses.
Nick's high school life is pretty much by the numbers. He has a plucky sidekick, Marcus (Johnny Pemberton) with some secrets of his own. And Nick is also hot for a rocker girl named Amanda (Aimee Teegarden); who may be pregnant. She's also dating Nick's rival, a swim jock without empathy. Nick also finds that Amanda is suddenly interested in him, but his job keeps him from being able to spend time with her. There's nothing really innovative about any of that, but I can't deny that I enjoyed the scene where Nick finally got his revenge on Amanda's boyfriend.
There's also an odd subplot about Nick's science teacher, Ms. Walker (who is portrayed by Rebecca Mader from "Lost"), as she displays signs of sexual attraction towards Nick with a lot of inappropriate touching. I was convinced that it had something to do with Nick's "afterschool job," but the real reason behind it is pretty lackluster. Let's just say that having armed mobsters and ex-KGB agents invading a high school swim meet was more believable than Ms. Walker's motivations. As it happens, Nick does have a government handler working in the school, whose identity was a nice surprise.
My overall conclusion of "Aim High" is that this could have worked as a TV series. And it's much better than it has any right to be. "Aim High" is far from perfect, but if it continued to surround Jackson with talent like Brown and Mader and also had some stronger scripts, I'd keep watching it. There's real potential here.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.