Black Bird Movie Review: What True Story is Black Bird Based on?

In 2022, AppleTV has been on a roll. Between Severance, Shining Girls, and Pachinko, the streamer has carved out a rather distinct portion of the tiny screen.

Despite the fact that AppleTV+ is leagues behind other streaming services (rumors suggest they have 40 million customers globally), the quality of their programming has been quite high. There are still the occasional duds, but it’s nice to see a show like Black Bird continuing the trend of greatness.

Black Bird is a wickedly creepy and well-written prison thriller based on actual occurrences. It is a show that combines elements of Prison Break, Mindhunter, Mouse, and Hannibal to create a cocktail that will keep you going back for more. Despite some tantalizing hints of a convoluted thriller, this one is very basic narratively but shines out due to its snappy writing and believable, powerful characters. Not to mention the seductive atmosphere.


Jimmy Keene is a brash and confident protagonist. He gets sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison for narcotics trafficking. He appears to be doing well for himself and has a knack for relating to others. Jimmy is approached by the FBI, who offers him a lucrative agreement once he avoids trouble with all the other gangs.

In exchange for his freedom, he will be transferred to a high-security prison in Springfield, where he will befriend a serial killer suspect and coerce him into confessing. So simple, right?

Black Bird Review
Black Bird Review

Larry Hall, the man in question, is a really unsettling individual. Fans of Mindhunter will quickly find connections between the BTK Killer and the protagonist of the show. Paul Walter Hauser is extraordinary in his performance.

Completely unrecognizable from his character in Cobra Kai, Hauser elevates his performance in this film. His performance as Larry Hall is nothing short of phenomenal. He commands the screen with a terrifying and unsettling presence that makes it difficult to look away. Taron Egerton, his rival, likewise delivers an outstanding performance, bringing his A-game to this.

Alongside the prison drama, there is a distinct storyline revolving around Brian and Lauren, two investigators on the hunt for the truth. Did Larry indeed murder these women? Or is he projecting the killings of others? Is he really an innocent, misunderstood giant? Or is there a pervasive evil that is being concealed by a facade of innocence? These questions plague not only the many characters but also the audience.

While the mystery in se pertains to the murders, it also encompasses Larry Hall himself, who is a bit of a riddle. A mystery that steadily unravels during the season.

The FBI inquiry is interesting, but at times it feels more like a break from the prison’s tremendous drama. Without a question, it is still engaging, and key details of the case are revealed well across the episodes. This extends all the way to the series’ conclusion, yet everything also hinges heavily on Jimmy’s confession. Consequently, a portion of this drama lacks the gravitas and significance it may have possessed.


Black Bird is intelligently written across the board, and the six episodes of this miniseries are well-paced to tell this story.

Black Bird is an excellent example of how to do this efficiently without wasting time, which is fairly uncommon in modern media. You can tell that everyone working on this project is passionate about their work, and every aspect of this production is spot on.

Black Bird is a superb criminal thriller and a fantastic miniseries in its own right, regardless of whether you want to watch it all in one sitting or over several nights (or weeks). In an increasingly crowded industry, Black Bird manages to stand out as one of 2022’s most brilliant luminaries.

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Black Bird Trailer


What Actual Event Does Black Bird Depict?

Yes. In the early 1990s, James “Jimmy” Keene was a star football player and team captain at Kankakee Eastridge High School in Illinois, as confirmed by the Black Bird true story. He earned a letter in wrestling and track as well.

Is Gary the Murderer in Black Bird?

We later learned that Gary persuaded his brother to confess to 15 murders, and in typical Larry way, he recanted his confession. Although he will never be eligible for parole, he has not been convicted of the hundreds of murders and other crimes of which he has been accused.

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