‘The Big Cigar’ Review – More Political Drama Than Wild Caper

The Huge Image

  • The Huge Cigar
    tells the true story of Huey Newton’s escape to Cuba by means of a pretend film plan.
  • The collection focuses on Newton as a person, conflicted by his previous and current, with emphasis on his human facet.
  • Regardless of its political depth, the present falls wanting absolutely exploring the character improvement of its co-protagonist Bert Schneider.

Again in 1974, Black Panther Get together founder Huey P. Newton (André Holland) discovered himself in a reasonably dire scenario. Accused of the homicide of 17-year-old intercourse trafficking sufferer Kathleen Smith, he confronted a tough alternative: both go away behind his household and the group that he helped create in Oakland, California, and flee the nation, or face yet one more stint in jail, an expertise that had already damaged his spirit within the 60s, when he was arrested for the homicide of a police officer and did time nearly fully in solitary confinement. After weighing each choices and figuring out full nicely that whether or not he was responsible or not was irrelevant due to the FBI’s curiosity in bringing down each him and the Get together, Newton determined to take off to Cuba, the place he sought asylum with a authorities that was way more sympathetic to his trigger. Now, 50 years later, Apple TV+ brings the story of his escape to our screens with Jim Hecht and Janine Sherman BarroisThe Huge Cigar.

With a narrative that’s principally true, as per its personal voiceover delivered by Holland himself as Newton, The Huge Cigar facilities across the Black Panther chief and the 2 Hollywood producers that helped him flee the US authorities. Performed by Alessandro Nivola and P.J. Byrne, respectively, Bert Schneider and Steve Blauner staged a pretend film to deceive the feds as they smuggled Newton overseas. If this description instantly makes you consider the 2012 Ben Affleck movie Argo, by which the pretend film technique is deployed to get American hostages out of the U.S. embassy in 1979 Tehran, you are not far off. The Huge Cigar is definitely based mostly on a Playboy article written by the identical writer who penned the story that impressed Argo, Joshuah Bearman. As a matter of truth, the story of Huey Newton’s cinematic escape has been making the rounds round Hollywood since Argo was nonetheless in theaters, with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris set to direct a film based mostly on Bearman’s piece.

The Huge Cigar (2024)

Follows Huey P. Newton’s life. He escaped to Cuba to keep away from prosecution for homicide with the assistance of Bert Schneider, the Hollywood producer behind Straightforward Rider, in addition to a number of different celeb radicals.

Launch Date
Could 17, 2024


Janine Sherman Barrois

Jim Hecht , Joshuah Bearman , Janine Sherman Barrois , Laurence Andries , Ameer Hasan , Gwendolyn M. Parker , Valerie Woods

Janine Sherman Barrois

‘The Huge Cigar’ May Be Misnamed, However the Solid Are Standouts

Nicely, the film by no means occurred. As an alternative, it took the article one other decade to be became a six-episode-long restricted collection with episodes helmed by Don Cheadle, Tiffany Johnson, and Damon Thomas. The Argo method, although, stays, with Apple TV+ describing the show as a “wild caper” and leaning closely on the pretend film side of the story. That is, nevertheless, a bit deceiving. Schneider and Blauner’s pretend movie, titled The Huge Cigar, will not be that large part of the plot. The bogus mission does serve its objective as one thing that these concerned in Newton’s escape use to speak in code with each other with the intention to preserve FBI brokers unaware of their plan. Nonetheless, in contrast to what occurs in Argo, there’s nothing of a Hollywood manufacturing to how Newton finally manages to flee. Blauner and Schneider’s plan is way more simple, and their film The Huge Cigar is hardly on the heart of the present. Heck, we hear extra about Schneider’s different, very actual movie, the traditional struggle documentary Hearts and Minds, than concerning the film from which the present takes its title.

Consequently, going into The Huge Cigar, the TV collection, anticipating a “wild caper” is a recipe for disappointment. Whereas the present has its spectacular moments, they typically learn as an afterthought. In actuality, The Huge Cigar‘s focus lies elsewhere: the collection is a reasonably profitable drama about Newton as a person and the way the fact of his existence conflicts with the picture that was created round him. The present makes some extent of verbally telling us that there are two Huey Newtons: the one sitting on a wicker chair, holding two weapons in a well-known {photograph}, and the one manufactured from flesh and bone, who’s conflicted about the way forward for his legacy, traumatized by his previous, and completely afraid for his current.

André Holland makes that human model of Newton a particularly compelling character. Although his voice-over can incessantly really feel redundant, his voice as a performer shines by means of in a manner that makes Newton fully his personal. Holland is aware of the best way to make his feelings resonate with audiences, significantly when the character is at his lowest and drowning in paranoia. Likewise, the solid surrounding his protagonist can be on the high of their recreation. Tiffany Boone is fascinating in her earnestness as Newton’s girlfriend, Gwen Fontaine, and it is frankly a pity that we get to see so little of her character, particularly when her wealthy internal life is alluded to within the screenplay. Byrne’s efficiency can be extraordinarily humorous and anxiety-inducing, which, when taking Blauner’s function within the story into consideration, ought to be learn as a praise.

‘The Huge Cigar’ Fails Its Co-Protagonist

Nivola can be fairly in his component as Schneider, however that is the place The Huge Cigar begins to endure from some hiccups. There’s actually nothing fallacious about Nivola’s efficiency within the present, however there’s something lacking from Schneider’s development as a personality. From the get-go, we’re launched to him as a nepo child who needs to interrupt the mildew, a bourgeois with a conscience who needs to struggle for the underdog not simply by means of his motion pictures but additionally by placing his cash the place his mouth is. This results in would-be fascinating conflicts between Schneider and his household, in addition to to some dramatic moments by which he would not know whether or not he’ll have the ability to end Hearts and Minds, however all is dampened by the truth that we do not truly perceive what makes his character tick. Since The Huge Cigar places Schneider within the function of a co-protagonist alongside Huey, that turns into a major problem.

The Huge Cigar builds parallels between Schneider and Newton, portray them not simply as companions however as equals combating the nice struggle in several territories. Nonetheless, whereas the present presents us loads of perception into Huey’s upbringing and ideological awakening, there’s not sufficient about the place Schneider’s idealism comes from. Is he merely rebelling towards his rich, highly effective household, as recommended by his chats along with his father? Is he making an attempt to turn into somebody he isn’t, because it appears to be the case within the moments by which he flakes out? Or is he actually a revolutionary, somebody who had the again of not solely Huey Newton but additionally Chicago 7 defendant Abbie Hoffman? Maybe he is all of these items rolled into one, however why? The present needs us to simply accept that he was merely born completely different, however that’s the type of clarification we get for a Chosen One narrative, not a historic, political drama.

This does not simply hurt Nivola’s character. At one level, Gwen asks Huey why these are the fitting individuals to elude a manhunt, and, by the top of the present, we’re nonetheless nodding our heads alongside her, questioning why. After all, these guys have been those that have been there again in 1974. Nonetheless, in telling a narrative, The Huge Cigar ought to persuade us there’s a cause why they have been chosen, and it would not. If we did not know that the present was based mostly on a real story, we might merely assume that its creators went with Hollywood producers for Newton’s companions as a result of it sounded enjoyable.

‘The Huge Cigar’ Is not Afraid of Huey Newton’s Politics, however Leans Away From Uglier Elements

Against this, the present is fairly clear in relation to making us perceive what led Newton to take motion, both by means of his extreme voiceover or by means of scenes of police harassment and brutality towards himself and different Black individuals. In all equity, The Huge Cigar will not be afraid of Newton’s politics. It would not water down his communism with the intention to make him extra palatable to a liberal viewers, and it even goes so far as clamoring for a revolution. The writers and administrators are additionally not shy in relation to portraying the contradictions and the conflicts of curiosity contained in the get together itself, exhibiting how completely different programs of motion collide towards each other by means of Newton’s interactions with the extra radical Eldridge Cleaver (Brenton Allen) and the extra electoral politics-inclined Bobby Seale (Jordane Christie).

What The Huge Cigar is a little bit afraid of, although, is its essential character. Granted, the present does an excellent job of portraying Newton as a damaged man, but it surely stops wanting depicting his violence towards these round him. When it does so, it is by suggesting that Newton’s bodyguards may need been concerned in some ugly deeds, however Newton himself is all the time given the advantage of the doubt. It’s onerous to know whether or not he did commit all of the crimes that he was accused of or whether or not he was framed by a authorities that needed to see him gone. Nonetheless, once we take into account that even former Black Panther partisans have come out and accused Newton of some pretty egregious violence — particularly, rape — it looks as if not less than a few of it ought to have been addressed. Politically talking, Huey Newton, the person on the wicker chair, and the motion that he helped sprout can’t be neglected. Nonetheless, as an individual, and never an thought, Newton was a sophisticated man. In relation to portraying that entire complexity, The Huge Cigar falls brief.

Andre Holland in The Big Cigar TV Show

The Huge Cigar (2024)

Apple TV+’s The Huge Cigar, which tells the true story of Huey Newton’s escape to Cuba by means of a pretend film plan, succeeds at being extra of a drama than a caper.


  • André Holland, Alessandro Nivola, P.J. Byrne, and Tiffany Boone are all nice of their roles.
  • The present is not afraid of Huey Newton’s politics.
  • The collection is a reasonably profitable drama that opposes an thought and an actual particular person.

  • In relation to co-protagonist Bert Schneider, the collection fails in his characterization.
  • The Huge Cigar can be afraid of portraying the ugliness in Newton’s life.

The Huge Cigar premieres with its first two episodes on Could 17, completely on Apple TV+ within the U.S.

Watch on Apple TV+

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