That’s because the war has already happened when the story begins, finding the US divided, with Manhattan turned into a lawless “demilitarized zone” between the two riven sides. Years after being separated from her teenage son as they fled the chaos, Alma (Rosario Dawson) braves returning to that zone, determined to be reunited with him no matter what the cost.
What Alma finds, though, is a population essentially divided into wary factions, working toward a vote seeking to provide greater order and unity to their society. On one end sits Alma’s ex, Parco (Benjamin Bratt), and on the other Wilson (Hoon Lee), each ruthless and brutal in their own way.
The net effect, however, is dramatically inert, perhaps in part because there have been so many variations on this theme, and because Alma’s quest — and the idea of a mother desperate to reconnect with her now-grown child — overshadows the more interesting or distinctive aspects, turning it into a rather generic action thriller.
Nor does it help that the narrative basically joins the story in progress, without pausing or flashing back — as, say, “The Handmaid’s Tale” did — to flesh out how America reached this sorry point.
While that’s fertile territory in theory, like “Y,” “DMZ’s” alphabet soup winds up in a kind of bleak and familiar no-man’s land, one that makes it a little too tempting to zone out before crossing the finish line.
“DMZ” premieres March 17 on HBO Max, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.