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After turning seasoned women photographers into giggling, squirming schoolgirls on the red carpet, Atlanta native Omari Hardwick set the screen ablaze with his plausible portrayal of ruthless underworld kingpin “Ghost” in the hit Starz series “Power.”

Hardwick hosted an advanced media screening at the Regal Cinemas at Atlantic Station in Midtown with the help of Xfinity and his celeb buddies. Once the lights went down, the tension was ratcheted up. Way, way up.

And, most importantly, now the audience (especially those who never saw the series) understand why “Power” is being compared to the surprise TV blockbuster, Fox’s “Empire,” starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

The comparisons are well earned.

Hardwick’s character, James “Ghost” St. Patrick, is besieged with the same set of problems that Michael Corleone was tormented by in the legendary Godfather trilogy, that Terrence Howard has in “Empire,” that most gangsters and top-level drug dealers are faced with: they tire of the illicit game and desperately want to go legitimate, they want to wash their money clean, to leave the treachery of the crime syndicate life, but they can’t. Seen and unseen shadowy figures on the periphery of Ghost’s life continue have a death grip on him and refuse to let go. Just when Ghost thinks he is about to get out, “they pull me back in,” as Al Pacino once famously said.

Complicating matters with a man of Ghost’s stature, of course, are tested loyalties with his bloodless sidekick Tommy (played with chilling effects by Joe Sikora), his infidelities that lead to love (with Angela Valdes played by Lela Loren) and cause friction inside the St. Patrick household, and a smart and cunning wife (Naturi Naughton) who begins to make moves to protect herself that, in the end, may not be beneficial to her husband.

Season 2 of “Power” has captivating storylines with enthralling characters who each take turns dominating scenes. First is executive producer 50 Cent, who plays Kanan, who is recently released from prison and, with the help of his son, wants to exact revenge on Ghost and bring him down. Another is business baron Victor Garber (from Titanic fame), who wants Ghost to be beholden to him. And the third is his sidepiece lover, Angela, who he wants to run away with but who is also a government agent investigating him, sending them both spiraling towards unwanted conclusions.

All of this combined makes for a “Power” series that is as every bit as captivating as “Empire,” only rawer and more gritty because cable television gives it more parameters to operate and tell the story.

REVIEW: Omari Hardwick’s ‘Power’ series as good as ‘Empire’ was originally published on atlantadailyworld.com

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