Twisted Metal First Reviews: 'Scrappy,' 'Blood-Soaked Blast,' Critics Say

The high-octane comedy series stars Anthony Mackie, Stephanie Beatriz, and Joe Seanoa, with Will Arnett and Thomas Haden Church.

by | July 26, 2023 | Comments

TAGGED AS: , , , ,

One of Sony Computer Entertainment’s greatest hits, the Twisted Metal post-apocalyptic demolition derby video game series was a bestselling PlayStation exclusive. Now the game franchise has been adapted to a high-octane half-hour live-action comedy series for Peacock that stars Anthony Mackie as John Doe, a courier called a “milkman” who bets his future on the successful delivery of a single mysterious package. John stands to earn a better life with this run — that is, if he can make friends with an axe-wielding car thief named Quiet (Stephanie Beatriz) and fend off murderous marauders, including a deranged clown named Sweet Tooth (played by Joe Seanoa and voiced by Will Arnett).

Thomas Haden Church, Neve Campbell, and Richard Cabral also appear in the series, which is produced by Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Universal Television. Mackie is an executive producer alongside Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool, Zombieland), Arnett and Marc Forman (Electric Avenue), Jason Spire (Inspire Entertainment), Peter Principato (Artists First), Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan from PlayStation Productions, and Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios.

Here’s what critics are saying about season 1 of the video game adaptation Twisted Metal:

Twisted Metal key art

Stephanie Beatriz, Anthony Mackie, and Joe Seanoa in Twisted Metal season 1 key art (Photo by Peacock)

How Is Anthony Mackie’s Performance?

Mackie makes for exactly the lead this show needs, playing to its eschatological absurdities and its occasional feints toward deeper meaning.
William Hughes, AV Club

It is fast-moving, it is funny and it features Anthony Mackie with his innate charm in maximum overdrive.
Mike Scott, Times-Picayune

Mackie is a veteran of the MCU, and does fine with an R-rated version of those movies’ jokey banter. He struggles more in selling John’s longing for safe harbor or human connection.
Alison Herman, Variety

Thomas Haden Church in Twisted Metal

Thomas Haden Church in Twisted Metal (Photo by Skip Bolen/Peacock)

What About the Rest of the Cast?

[T]he strong performers get repeatedly pushed aside for action set pieces that rarely raise the heart rate above resting.
Tim Stevens, The Spool

While the series itself is a fun time, Sweet Tooth and Arnett’s vocal performance is the heart of all of the crazy, dumb elements that make this series work. As a killer clown in a well-armed ice cream truck, there is something menacing and absolutely hilarious about both Arnett’s comedic line delivery and Joe Seanoa’s physical performance that makes this terrifying clown both an evil kind of depressing with humor that lands.
Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

Beatriz thrives in the more dynamic role, covering the wide range between sullen and traumatized and contagiously giddy as she becomes more involved in John’s milkman world…The cast’s other big names are more like guest stars, with Church delivering effective square-jawed surliness and Campbell coming across as cheery in a way that’s instantly suspicious.
Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Joe Seanoa in Twisted Metal

Seanoa in Twisted Metal (Photo by Skip Bolen/Peacock)

How Does the Twisted Metal Series Measure Up to the Game It’s Based On?

Twisted Metal is a very charming show that manages to accomplish a lot in its ten 30-minute episodes. Everything comes together in such a satisfying way that it makes Twisted Metal another very successful gaming adaptation.
Cade Onder,

I haven’t been into video games since Ms. Pac-Man was all the rage, but I can’t imagine that PlayStation’s “Twisted Metal” was as much fun to play as its TV adaptation is to watch.
Neal Justin, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Twisted Metal” uses enough of the game’s original characters to keep loyal fans interested while creating a whole new story within its universe.
Karama Horne, TheWrap

Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz in Twisted Metal

Mackie and Beatriz in Twisted Metal (Photo by Skip Bolen/Peacock)

Is the Comedy Series Twisted Metal Funny?

An aggressively unfunny adaptation of a one-dimensional decades-old PlayStation franchise that few still care about, Peacock’s R-rated action-comedy breaks down from the start and never recovers.
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

Twisted Metal is still all about vehicular manslaughter, even if the batting average for the show’s self-aware humor is frustratingly low.
Clint Worthington, Consequence

A show that hardly ever lets anything sit (whether a joke or a serious moment) before immediately undercutting it with ineffective humor.
Christian Holub, Entertainment Weekly

Although its pilot doesn’t make the best impression, and its crass humor can be grating, this action-comedy eventually slips into something of a groove, carving out surprisingly genuine moments amidst its deluge of irony and viscera.
Elijah Gonzalez, Paste Magazine

How Is the Action?

An irreverent, blood-soaked blast, emerging with its tongue firmly pressed into its wry cheek as a near-future, post-apocalyptic blend of Mad Max and Death Race 2000.
Mike Scott, Times-Picayune

Needs more fire in the fuel…For something like “Twisted Metal,” whose story doesn’t go much further than “smash cars and kill”? The show would have benefitted from a whole lot more peddling-to-the-metal and fewer attempts at forced emotional resonance. It feels like there’s an innate desire for “Twisted Metal” to feel like prestige TV when it needs to dial into the silliness.
Barry Levitt, Slashfilm

Twisted Metal might be a scrappy little mess at times, but it mostly works when it hits the gas.
Ross Bonaime, Collider

Joe Seanoa in Twisted Metal

Seanoa in Twisted Metal (Photo by Skip Bolen/Peacock)

Final Thoughts?

A middle-of-the-road action-comedy for Peacock from the “Deadpool” and “Zombieland” dudes.
Rendy Jones,

Shallow but entertaining, with traces of heart.
Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

The story of “Twisted Metal” is thin and packed with tropes; it’s still an undertaking to get there from no story at all. The rest of the industry should ask whether that effort was worth it before the next wave of game TV starts to break.
Alison Herman, Variety

“Twisted Metal” realizes that sometimes the appeal of the post-apocalypse genre lies in the simple pleasure of living vicariously through a likable hero dispensing one-liners while racing across the American wasteland.
Zaki Hasan, San Francisco Chronicle

67% Twisted Metal: Season 1 (2023) streams all 10 episodes on Thursday, July 27 on Peacock.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.