‘Hand of God’ Review: Amazon Drama Inspires Little Faith

A great cast including Ron Perlman, Dana Delany and Garret Dillahunt can’t save this show from feeling forced

Amazon’s new drama “Hand of God” boasts a stellar cast of veteran and newer actors, yet it fails to compel as it weaves a story of attempted suicide, rape and religious fervor.

With a cast including Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”), Dana Delany (“Body of Proof,” “China Beach”), Garret Dillahunt (“Justified”) Andre Royo (“The Wire”) and Julian Morris (“New Girl”), “Hand of God” is packed with proven talent. Though the pilot episode has calculated moments of high drama, it doesn’t make us care about the recently baptized Judge Pernell Harris (Perlman), his coolly detached wife Crystal (Delany), or his daughter-in-law Jocelyn (Alona Tal) who was violently raped.

The pilot sets up the possibility that Judge Harris may be touched by religious fervor or losing his mind as a result of his son P.J. trying to commit suicide and landing in a coma. The judge is obsessed with finding the man who raped P.J.’s wife Jocelyn and made P.J. watch during the hour-long ordeal. Harris finds himself at the Hand of God ministry, led by Reverend Curtis (Julian Morris,) and Harris makes a $50,000 donation in an effort to, well, we’re not quite sure why Harris suddenly embraces the small ministry. Reverend Curtis is young, handsome and persuasive, but is he truly a man of the cloth or is he a con man?

Complicating matters even more is Garret Dillahunt’s KD, a violent repeat offender who lands in front of Judge Harris after he beats up a fellow inmate. When KD tells the Judge he’s recently reborn, the recently baptized Judge is surprisingly lenient and releases him. He then recruits KD as his second in command in the hunt to find the man who raped Jocelyn.

Watching the first hour of “Hand of God,” the performances are solid but the shocking moments fail to connect dramatically. Dillahunt is a fascinating actor and he may be the key reason to continue watching. He’s played several violent, socio/psychopathic characters and he always brings depth and dimension to them. The faith-based connection KD has with Judge Harris is the potential engine for the show, as KD commits an act at the behest of the Judge that will change both their fates moving forward.

“Hand of God” creator Ben Watkins previously worked on USA’s action-oriented “Burn Notice.” Here, he tackles far more sobering material: personal faith, belief, justice and vengeance. There’s a considerable amount of story potential, yet the execution leaves much to be desired.

All ten episodes of “Hand of God” debut on Amazon Prime Video Sept. 4th.