rami malek in mr robotUSA, a network known best for its original shows starring suave men in nice clothes (think "Burn Notice," "Suits," "Graceland," etc.) and seemingly never-ending marathons of "Law and Order: SVU," appears to be going in a much different and much more intriguing direction with its new series, "Mr. Robot."

On "Mr. Robot," you will not find a muscle-y hero with quick reflexes and even quicker comebacks. Instead you'll find Elliot (Rami Malek), a quiet tech geek with serious social anxiety. By day, he works as a cybersecurity programmer at the same firm as his childhood friend (and possible love interest), Angela (Portia Doubleday); by night, he's a hacker vigilante out to right what he sees as the world's many wrongs. Through an internal monologue running throughout the episode, we find out more about Elliot's disillusioned view of the world and the people who run it. Enemy number one in Elliot's eyes is E Corp (or "Evil Corp," as he likes to call it), a large financial corporation that is conveniently seeking out tech security from Elliot's employer's firm. After tracking down an attempted hack into E Corp's cybersecurity, Elliot meets the titular Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), an odd, mysterious leader of a team of hackers determined to take down E Corp and save every citizen from debt. Mr. Robot eventually invites Elliot to join his hacker gang, leading Elliot into a significant moral dilemma.

Visually, the show is excellent. It's perfectly dark and shadowy and ominous, bringing to mind the likes of David Fincher (Interestingly enough, the director of the "Mr. Robot" pilot, Niels Arden Oplev, directed the original "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" movie. The later American adaptation was directed by -- you guessed it -- David Fincher). Malek is great too, bringing a very likable quality to such a closed-off and antisocial character. Despite his sometimes-questionable choices, you really want Elliot to win and stay safe in the process. He's a new anti-hero for the post-"Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" era.

The only part of the show that didn't quite grab me was Mr. Robot and his hacktivist team. They felt a little stale and obvious. Of course, they all wear funky clothes and have strange personalities and work out of an abandoned carnival at Coney Island! They're hackers, and that's what hackers do! My hope is that they either develop a more interesting and unique persona as a group or they fade into the background, simply a vehicle for Elliot to go deeper into the dark recesses of E Corp.

What makes the show really intriguing is the use of Elliot's internal monologue. Since we're seeing everything from his point of view, his thoughts permeate the landscape, creating a narration that might not necessarily be honest or reliable. For example, once Elliot identifies E Corp as "Evil Corp," the new moniker is all we see and hear. Even characters that seem like they wouldn't dare besmirch the name of E Corp are seen using the new name. In the "real world," they likely didn't, but in Elliot's world, it's commonplace.

In one scene with Elliot's therapist, we learn that he claims to see men in black following him around. We see them too, but it's never entirely clear whether or not they really exist. If these men are potential delusions, could Mr. Robot and his team even be real? Is any of it real? Out of all of the questions raised in this first episode, I found these to be the most compelling. They're the ones that will keep me watching, to see what Elliot does -- or thinks he does -- next.

Jenn Murphy is a journalism student at Columbia College Chicago and a contributor toMoviefone's Campus Beat. Are you a current college student with a love for all things movies and TV? Contribute to Campus Beat!
Mr. Robot
Based on 28 critics

Young, anti-social computer programmer Elliot works as a cybersecurity engineer during the day, but at night he is a vigilante hacker. He is recruited by the mysterious l... Read More

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