On April 23rd, Sky Atlantic premiered “Gangs of London” in the United Kingdom, drawing in more than two million people in front of the television. The critics were heaping on the praise with the first series from Gareth Evans and not without just cause. This powerful crime drama will delight fans of the genre with intrigue between rival gangs, a sober and dark portrait of the city and spectacular action scenes. Finally, this Sunday November 15th the series comes to Spain from the hand of Starzplay.
Starting at the beginning, the fiction begins when London’s most powerful criminal, Finn Wallace (Colm Meaney), is assassinated. Nobody knows who has ordered his death, and as spectators we only see that two kids have been tricked into carrying out the coup without being aware of the earthquake they are going to unleash. Because now all the shady business goings-on in town depend on catching the culprit.
Ignoring the advice of Ed Dumani (Lucian Msamati), his father’s right hand man for the previous two decades and another member of the family, the impulsive Sean Wallace (Joe Cole) decides to put the brakes on business until he finds those responsible for his father’s death. In fact, the opening scene of the series has our “Peaky Blinders” actor interrogating a young man whom he ends up burning alive, and that’s just a taster of the boy’s volatile nature and the inferno his vengeance will spark.
“If you want access to our businesses, you must find my father’s murderer. I know he’s close by”, Sean tells his partners, criminals from all over the world who will soon begin to view the heir to the empire as an erratic adversary incapable of handling setback. Among these are the Albanian mafia, and the main suspects as Finn was shot on their turf, the Kurdish and Pakistani drug cartels, as well as several criminals of Asian origin. Everyone depends on the ports the Wallace family controls and as their economic losses grow, so does their contempt for the young man. At one point, the leader of the Kurdish mafia, Lale (Narges Rashidi), complains that Sean behaves like a child. “He’s only had one death” says the drug trafficker in reference to this violence-torn world.
The only man who seems capable of assisting Sean is Elliot Finch (Sope Dirisù), who up to that point had been operating as a simple henchman for the organization while seriously preoccupied with joining the Wallace clan. Hell-bent on promotion and risking his own life, Elliot presents us with some of the best action scenes of the series: a hypnotic performance meticulously choreographed that’ll leave you insensitive to the violence and glued to the screen. And it has to be said, there’s no shortage of the crimson flow, broken bones, cracked heads and stabbings. Indeed, series creator, the aforementioned Evans, is acknowledged for having brought Indonesian martial arts to world cinema with movies such as “The Raid”.
By now it might sound somewhat cliché to refer to the narrative space as just another character, but without a doubt, the drab greyness of London, its unsettling dark alleys and multicultural inhabitants are another highlight of “Gangs of London”. If we add to this the time-honored interest in discovering whodunit, in this case, who killed Finn, together with some truly stunning plot twists, the result is a perfect Molotov cocktail of mystery, drama and action. Given that the pilot is an hour and a half long, the presentation of characters and conflicts is more than cleared up. It remains to be seen if women, who are barely penciled into the pilot, will be given their well-deserved elbowroom, although we should highlighting here the participation of the “Game Of Thrones” actress Michelle Fairley as Finn’s widow.