Max’s The Sympathizer trailer promises a black-comedy spy thriller with a Robert Downey Jr triple whammy

Robert Downey Jr in The Sympathizer
(Image credit: HBO Max)

Max is showing some great stuff this year – I'm currently nearing the end of True Detective: Night Country, which has had me watching from behind my fingers for much of it – and one of the most anticipated shows is The Sympathizer

It's an A24 movie so you know it's going to be unusual, and now the second trailer has dropped we can get more of an idea of its pitch-black humor. We also now know when we can watch it: the show will make its debut on Max on April, 14 2024.

What is The Sympathizer about?

According to HBO, the limited series will be "blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping spy novel and a powerful story of love and friendship". Based on the Pulitzer prize-winning novel of the same name by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer is the story of a half-Vietnamese, half-French spy who is torn between hs loyalty to North Vietnam and his comrades in the South Vietnamese military. 

He escapes to Los Angeles after the fall of Saigon, and in the US he continues to spy for the country of his birth – not entirely voluntarily. Oh, and he also gets a job as a consultant on a Vietnam war movie that's not a million miles away from Platoon or Apocalypse Now. The film is partly a spy thriller and partly a satire about cross-cultural confusion.

Hoa Xuande (Cowboy Bebop, Hungry Ghosts) plays the hero, Sandra Oh (Killing Eve) is "a liberated feminist in the midst of a love triangle" and Robert Downey Jr, who plays multiple antagonists, are the key names here, and the cast also includes Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Vy Le and Alan Trong. The showrunner is Park Chan-wook, whose Oldboy is widely and rightly regarded as a classic action thriller – he'll also be directing the first episodes.

The Sympathizer will be streaming on Max, one of the best streaming services, from April, 14, 2024. While you wait, check out our roundup of the best Max series for more things to watch this weekend. 

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.