Dept. of Thrills and Chills


The last time I thought about South Africa this much was during the 2010 World Cup. Trackers changed that. This is a South African crime thriller that’s premiering June 6th on Cinemax (Astro CH 412) and the HBO Go app, and I’m here to tell you that if you’re a fan of the genre, then Trackers needs to be on your watchlist. 

Trackers is a six episode miniseries based on a 2011 book by Deon Meyer and tells the story of the Presidential Bureau of Intelligence (PBI), a fictional intelligence agency (basically South Africa’s CIA), as they investigate an upcoming terror event happening in the capital.

The series tells several concurrent stories.

Milla is a woman trying to find meaning in her life after she leaves her abusive husband and starts working for the PBI as an analyst. Over the course of the first three episodes, she starts to find her place in the PBI and gets involved in ways she (and probably her bosses at the PBI) may not appreciate.

Lemmer is a former member of the Special Forces who accidentally falls into a smuggling operation while trying to do a favour for a friend. This one misstep takes him on a collision course with the aforementioned terror event.

We also follow Janina, the head of the PBI, and her top agent, Quinn, as they investigate and try and stop the upcoming terrorist attack. There is also the South African gang that’s working with the Muslim terrorists. Rhino smuggling. Diamonds. And a shady vet. 

I was a little apprehensive when I started Trackers. The crime thriller isn’t a genre I normally go for but the South African setting intrigued me. And somehow, Trackers does a much better job at being South African then Netflix’s Queen Sono did. Queen Sono’s South African setting does not feel as natural as this. Queen Sono feels like it’s trying to be too much like James Bond, showing off glitzy parties and big chases, while Trackers feels more organic; a lot more down to earth.

They’re both great shows, but Trackers has an authenticity that Queen Sono doesn’t. The characters speak Afrikaans and Arabic, and very rarely swing into English. Which makes sense seeing as how Trackers was first released on South African TV.

Reading the description of the book, Trackers feels very much like a first entry into the South African version of Tom Clancy’s Ryanverse. And if these first three episodes are anything to go by, I for one hope that there will be more to come.

Trackers debuts, same time as the U.S., on Saturday, 6 June at 10AM, exclusively on HBO GO, and at 11AM on CINEMAX (Astro Ch 412 HD) with a same day encore at 11PM.

Cinemax, Season 1, 6 episodes
Showrunners: Robert Thorogood and Rebecca Fuller-Campbell
Cast: Sandi Schultz, Thapelo Mokoena, James Gracie, Trix Vivier, Sisanda Henna, and Rolanda Marais

If you’re looking for more non-English shows to binge on, Bahir’s got a list.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

A still from Netflix's Crip Camp.
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