Max Crime Series Explores The Gritty Realities Of The Justice System

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The 2016 crime drama The Night Of is streaming on Max. The eight-episode limited series is based on the first season of the 2008 British series Criminal Justice. The American version is directed by Steven Zaillian and James Marsh from a script by Zaillian and Richard Price. The story follows Nasir “Naz” Khan, a Pakistani-American college student accused of murdering a woman from New York’s Upper West Side.

The Night Of Hooks You From The Opening Shot

On the unforgiving streets of New York City, innocence is fragile and easily shattered by its residents’ choices. Such is the premise of The Night Of, a series that grips you from the very first frame and refuses to let go. At the heart of the story is Naz, portrayed with heartfelt sincerity by Riz Ahmed. He is the epitome of a good son, navigating the complexities of youth and temptation.

Naz’s Night Takes A Turn

His journey toward chaos begins innocently enough, with a simple desire to attend a downtown party. When fate intervenes, and his plans go awry, Naz finds himself behind the wheel of his father’s yellow cab, a choice that will irrevocably alter the course of his life. What starts as a series of misadventures takes a dark turn when Naz crosses paths with Andrea Cornish (Sofia Black-D’Elia).

After mistaking Naz for an actual cab driver, Andrea invites him to her apartment, which leads to a night of alcohol-fueled debauchery. What initially felt like the best night of his life quickly turns to horror when Naz wakes up to find Andrea dead, with injuries suggesting that she had been stabbed multiple times.

Naz Is Suspect No. 1

Frightened, Naz flees the scene and remains free for a short time until he is pulled over for a traffic violation. After a slew of unfortunate events, Naz becomes the only suspect in the murder of Andrea Cornish. Even his unrelated actions on the night of the incident, such as stopping to gas up his car, and a racist encounter on the street (in which Naz was the target), look like evidence against him.

Naz is questioned by Detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp) and eventually asks for a lawyer. However, he is repeatedly dissuaded from getting one. Instead, he is asked to confess to the murder, even though he maintains his innocence. While in a holding cell, world-weary attorney John Stone (John Turturro) steps in to represent Naz.

The Post-9/11 Justice System

As the story progresses, The Night Of becomes so much more than a conventional crime drama, exploring the profound complexities of justice and prejudice in post-9/11 America. Richard Price and Steven Zaillian’s adaptation breathes new life into the source material, infusing it with a palpable sense of urgency and tension.

Perfect Casting Makes The Night Of A Must-Watch

The echoes of real-world issues, from Islamophobia to racial bias, reverberate throughout the series, lending it a poignant relevance in modern society. Central to the success of The Night Of are the performances of its cast. Riz captures the emotions of a young man teetering on the edge of despair, drawing audiences into his harrowing journey with every subtle gesture and expression.

John Turturro’s portrayal of defense attorney John Stone takes viewers through the ins and outs of the city’s justice system, offering Naz the best advice he can give. While his scrappy appearance is slightly off-putting, Stone proves that first impressions aren’t always correct as his endearing, intelligent side comes to the fore as the story unfolds.

Where To Stream


Although The Night Of may seem like a basic “whodunit,” the series is essentially a five-star exploration of the tragic meaninglessness of innocence or guilt.