It’s not often that I rate a Netflix Original so low, as usually Netflix has a minimum level of quality. But somehow, the docuseries Senzo: Murder of a Soccer Star got past the QA department. Yeah, it’s a howler.
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The victim’s story is of course very sad. Senzo Meyiwa was a goalkeeper for the Orlando Pirates in South Africa, with just 7 appearances for the national team. In Oct-2014 at age 30, he was shot and killed while at a small house party.
It took 6 years to bring 5 men to trial, but the family still has no justice. As of this writing, the trial has been postponed to mid-2023 due to changes in the defendants’ legal representation.
I watched the first 2 episodes, but it was so slow and repetitive, that I jumped to the last episode out of frustration. That’s where I realized that the crime is still not solved.
In addition, the soccer is minimal, as either Senzo didn’t have much footage in his limited career, or the producers did not want to pay for media rights. In the episodes I watched, the same clips were repeated over and over.
The real story
It seems that the real story of Senzo is the media attention: was it a robbery or a planned hit, and why are the police unable to solve the crime? Senzo sensationalism was fanned by who-dun-it speculation and outrage by fans and people without enough purpose in their lives. On top of those issues, this docuseries came out just before the suspects went to trial. So the series and its reporting added more clowns to the circus.
One media outlet decried that the producers paid family and friends for interviews, which could be checkbook journalism. Producer Ten10 has also been allowed to film the trial in the court room. So maybe a second series is around the corner. Yikes. Who said crime doesn’t pay.
About the production
It’s a shame this series is so exploitative. In a World Cup year, maybe a football murder mystery sounded like the right thing to do. But Senzo makes no sense-oh. Ten10 Films has a history of creating crime thrillers for Netflix, and co-founder Tendeka Matatu now helps run Netflix South Africa. Note that Ten10 has some soccer movie experience as they also had a hand in Street Kids United (2011), which I have not seen.
Director Sara Blecher has a collection of admired films, and she works to improve conditions for women in the South African film industry. She took this directing job during the pandemic, so maybe she just needed to put food on the table. I’m going to assume this series is not reflective of her career.
Perhaps the series would be more compelling if they had waited until the crime had been solved or if there were real closure. But frankly, this Netflix docuseries is basically hype about hype. Like some of the bad soccer movies on Amazon Prime, Senzo: Murder of a Soccer Star is not worth your time.
4 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 4