‘Hard Broken’ (2023) Review: A Toxic, Campy Murder Mystery You’re Better Off Skipping Out On

Murder mystery dramas must be one of the most interesting genres out there. These stories, if presented well, allow the audience to open their minds and be perceptive of the options and avenues a murder investigation could take. A badly made murder mystery can fall apart very quickly. Hard Broken, a Lebanese Netflix original, is of the latter type. This murder mystery drama is an investigation into the violent death of a young and successful doctor. Directed by Elie F. Habib, the show was released on the streaming platform on September 20, 2023.


Hard Broken, a six-episode miniseries, is about the murder of a young doctor named Yasmine in the presence of her husband Adam, after which the killer has been at large ever since. The murderer also left the scene of the crime in their expensive car, leaving Yasmine to die. Though Adam barely survived the ambush, Yasmine’s death leads to a full-blown investigation by the local police to find out if this was a robbery gone wrong or if her death was a pre-motivated killing.

The police collect the names of the suspects after interrogating Yasmine and Adam’s friends, who are bereaved by her sudden death. Adam is also dealing with the trauma of losing her and making sure their daughter Sarah’s life from here on is not severely affected. As the local police round up a suspect, Yasmine’s past is also dug up, which will determine the course of this investigation. The six episodes help the audience understand who the killer could be and what must have been their motive.


Hard Broken begins on a loud note, and it makes us wonder if the makers spent much time on the sound design of the show. The loud acting followed by a dramatic murder sequence adds to the over-the-top nature of the show, and this is something that remains consistent till the end. The first scene of “Hard Broken” allows the audience to understand what can be expected from this murder mystery, which eventually becomes a revenge drama. There is no explanation behind why the show is titled “Hard Broken”.

The investigative part of the story in the show is decent because it allows the audience to stay hooked on the narrative till the end. It keeps the intrigue regarding the identity of the killer intact. The screenplay, though, is a letdown from the start until the end. There is no structure given to the narrative. The back-and-forth between the current timeline and the flashback adds to the confusion. The pattern of the screenplay is erratic because most of the time the characters speak only in allegories, which makes it hard for the audience to follow the narrative. The show is dialogue-heavy, to the point where the makers have added conversational bits just to avoid awkward silences. There are characters in Hard Broken who have either been married or been friends for a long time, but the conversational dialogue between them seemed more like small talk.


The flashback sequences have been executed in the shoddiest possible way. The actors are forced to wear era-appropriate clothes for the stories set in flashbacks, which look hideous on most of them. The production is tacky because they didn’t dedicate enough time or money to make the audience feel invested in the narrative. The over-the-top theatrics are reminiscent of the Latin telenovelas, where the audience expects one too many plot twists in the screenplay, which is nevertheless so predictable that many saw the twists coming from a mile away.

The characters do not seem to be worried about the law and order of their city, which makes them respond to the police during interrogations in a rude manner. We wonder why the local investigation team took so long to figure out who the killer could be. None of the characters are believable. Most of them remain angry or are in the mood to plot against their own. There are subplots introduced, but the screenplay forgets to explore them. It is revealed that Yasmine was pregnant at the time of her death. The plot hole here is that it did not show up in the post-mortem report, which could have helped the police fast-track the investigation. There was also no follow-up to this subplot.


The writers of the show attempt to normalize a toxic relationship in which a spouse is constantly suspecting his girlfriend, who later became his wife. This narrative is problematic to the core. The emotional abuse this woman suffers is trivialized by everyone. The abuse in the form of harassment is used to justify the female character having to resort to infidelity. This infidelity is further used as a justification for a trigger point. The marriage of the lead characters in the show was toxic, but the makers projected it to be normal.

The cycle of trauma is unending, and as a female writer watching the show, it was disturbing to see the woman being gaslighted right from the start. The writers did not address how tricky and taxing this narrative is. Women in the show are reduced to gold diggers and incapable of understanding why men are overprotective of them. One of the lead characters, named Adam, has a complicated relationship with his mother. This relationship is also borderline abusive, as the man goes out of his way to demean his mother at many junctures. When will filmmakers talk about men going to therapy to deal with the trauma they faced as kids instead of expecting women to understand their baggage and work their lives around it? The normalization of the abuse in this show is a big red flag.


The performances of the actors in this show are below par. None of them could effectively portray emotions of any kind. Most of them are either hamming or screaming their tonsils out. There is no downplaying of the characters by the actors. None of the actors delivered a performance that is worth mentioning. It is appalling that a screenplay like this is picked up by Netflix. This halfheartedly made, disjointed murder mystery is atrocious. You should skip it.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

Latest articles


The performances of the actors in this show are below par. None of them could effectively portray emotions of any kind. Most of them are either hamming or screaming their tonsils out.'Hard Broken' (2023) Review: A Toxic, Campy Murder Mystery You're Better Off Skipping Out On