This review contains spoilers.
Iris. The Ancient Greek name for the Underworld, according to the series itself and unless the subbing went terribly wrong. I think this is an appropriate start to describe how I feel about the first season. 'Iris' was a messenger goddess. That is not what the Underworld was called. You know how one can find out? Google. Something which the writers did not even bother with, despite it being the damn name of their series. So, we can imagine just how thorough and professional their work really is. I don't demand they study Ancient Greek history to write one series, but I do demand they read some reliable source, like a book, or at least Google things. It's kind of the minimum amount of fucks you can give about your own work. To Google things up.
So, back to the series 'IRIS' now. I've had issues with it. Mostly around the characters. It felt like the series had mostly two characters. Hyeon Joon and Cheol Yeong. Lee Byung Hun's and Kim Seung Woo's characters. That is it. They are the only ones who had a proper character arc, whose actions and emotions made sense.
The only two people I gave a damn about
The villain was given a grand total of one tiny scene to state his motivations, at the very end, leaving him being just a caricature, I'm-bad-cuz presence for most of the show. The second male lead? We never even learned why he decided to go evil. Again, "just cuz". Then he got the hero virus and died, since he suddenly and without good reason grew a heart and balls at the same moment.
The females? There is a global war for power going on, with the fate of North and South Korea on the table, conspiracies, terrorism, intrigue and these two were too busy having cat fights over who gets to the hot lead first. Would it be the female lead, who spends most of her time crying and being a delicate flower, as is appropriate for a National Security agent? Or would it be the North Korean second lead who fell in wuv, because the male lead spared her life? As any hardcore trained top North Korean agent would. Although the movie fixed this last one by turning her whole behavior into an act, as she is revealed to be working for the bad guys, IRIS, all along. Good on them, except it looks like 'IRIS 2' might just scrap the movie, throw it under the rug and simply cancel its existence, which goes to show just how poorly this was thought-out.
Her villain status was probably the only thing the movie did right
Korea has to learn that not everything needs romance and melo. They also need to learn that not every romance has to be a melo one. I had to skip most of the scenes involving the romance in 'IRIS', simply because it was completely detached from the rest of it, which was a kick-ass action spy thriller. The melo did have one good use. The bromance. It would have worked, if only the second male lead had been given proper character development and reasons for doing things. As I already said, I'm sure he had them, we never saw them.
I can't help but to think that, had they focused on making a good action series, it would have been much better. They tried to have a romantic story, a secondary unrequited-love one (which was actually better than the main one), a melo best-friends-turned-enemies one and to make it a spy thriller at the same time. It just doesn't work that way, especially not when you clearly can't combine things nicely or even give your most important characters proper development and solid ground to stand on.
Don't get me wrong. This was a very fresh kind of series and it did a lot of things well. The premise was interesting, the themes they failed to explore properly were good choices, the music was awesome, the acting was mostly good and so was the action. It just shot itself in the foot.
Overall? A good attempt at an action thriller, ultimately left mediocre by plot holes, lacking character development, melo and overall bad writing gunning for too much.
Screencaps by Dramabeans