‘The Consultant’ Review: When Your Start-Up Goes to Hell

Christoph Waltz plays a very, very bad boss in a dark tech-industry satire from Amazon Prime Video.

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By Mike Hale

“The Consultant,” an amusing trifle on Amazon Prime Video that burns through most of its dark-comic capital before its eight episodes are up, is set during a critical moment at a tech company: when new, “competent” management takes over for the brilliant but callow founder.

It’s a Tim Cook-Steve Jobs scenario — there’s even a scene involving a sledgehammer, to reinforce the Apple connection — with a twist that both gives the show its satirical energy and limits the reach of its dark humor. The evil new boss, a silver-haired suit named Regus (Christoph Waltz), is actually evil: He arrives, like Old Scratch, with a contract and finagles the leader of a struggling video-game company into signing it, thereby bartering away the business. (The young technocrat doesn’t appear to have a soul to give up.)

“The Consultant” was created and written by the British screenwriter Tony Basgallop, based on a novel by Bentley Little, and it is in the vein of his previous American series, “Servant” on Apple TV+. Basgallop dresses up basic horror premises with curlicues of mordant, deadpan humor, and creates an ambient pea soup of unease that, for his well-employed but economically insecure young characters, constitutes a reign of terror. Key to the formula is the coy refusal to specify whether what we’re seeing is supernatural malevolence or simply really bad behavior.

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