Creators; Gareth Evans, Matt Flannery. Starring; Joe Cole, Sope Dirisu, Michelle Fairley. Rated R. Color. 9 Episodes.
Pardon my French but, HOLY SHIT! is this show absolutely insane. “Gangs of London” hits you hard from the opening frame and never lets up. Not for the squeamish, this high octane thrill ride is so in your face that I do not know how AMC got away with this being on basic cable. I mean that in a good way. I hate torture porn violent movies such as the “Hostel” or “Saw” franchises. What I do not hate is violence if done correctly. This show is the later of the two. It is incredibly brutal and will no doubt have you holding your hand up to your mouth, but the violence makes sense and is enthralling. After all, it is called “Gangs of London” so the title should warn you.
Show creator and director of several episodes Gareth Evans is best known for his intense action set pieces. See his previous work directing “The Raid” movie franchise from South Korea which is non-stop fighting and shoot-em-up filmmaking. Evans brings a level of authenticity to his various worlds, complete with long take camera work that at times defies the logical ways a scene can be shot. “Gangs of London” is no different.
We begin with main character Sean Wallace (Joe Cole) hanging a man off of a high rise building in London as the man begs for his life. Un-phased, Sean sets the man on fire as he plunges to his death. Why was Sean doing this? Because he is trying to find the people responsible for killing his father.
Finn Wallace (Colm Meaney) was the ultimate head of all the different gangs in London proper. He ran the show no matter which country you were doing business from. The Kurds, Japanese, Saudis, Albanians, Nigerians, and Pixies are all in play here. Everyone answers to the Wallace’s as they control the money and drug trade across the regions in and around Europe. In episode one Finn is killed by two idiot kids who did not know who they were killing. Big mistake.
The Dumani family, led by Ed (Lucian Msamati) and his son Alexander (Paapa Essiedu) are Wallace’s in spirit. The Black Dumanis were taken in and grew up with the Wallace’s and essential to creating this empire. Ed was the right hand man and Alexander remains the family accountant. They are trying to keep things together after Finn’s murder as all of the rival gangs smell blood with the boss man dead. That leaves hot headed Sean in charge and just as the Dumanis are making a deal to continue business as usual concerning the drug trafficking and illegal construction, the new top dog bursts into the room.
Sean declares that all business will stop until his fathers killer is found. There will be no product coming in or out of the London shipping areas and all industrial work is on hold. Needless to say that does not make a group of back-stabbing gangsters happy while also showing weakness in the Wallace family because the new boss is off the rails. At least at first. The dynamic evolves in later episodes.
The final piece of this puzzle is Elliot Finch (Sope Dirisu). Elliot is an undercover copper for two years and finally has a shot to make his way into the grand scope that is the Wallace empire. Starting with a crazy bar fight in which Elliot takes out a crew from the gang that Sean believes are partly responsible for the murder of his father, Elliot quickly finds himself deep in the inner circle of the family and eventually one of the only people Sean trusts.
So that is just episode one and I will leave you to it from there…
“Gangs of London” is beyond anything I have seen on cable television. I would suggest a second go through as there are so many characters and story lines to digest. That is not a bad thing. It is frankly a very complicated show. You never know who is loyal to anybody, other than Sean’s heroine addicted brother Billy (Brian Vernel) and his affection for the sister who wants nothing to do with any of this family corruption that is Jaqueline (Valene Kale). The screw up and the straight arrow have a bond beyond this evil world.
I do not want to break this bad boy down by episode points like many have done on the internet. This is your introductory rundown. Check it out for yourself please! You will see a minimum four amazing shootout scenes within the 10 episode run, as well as five intense hand-to-hand combat scenes. Automatic weapons, structures being exploded, and machete duels are just a few of the crazy set pieces. That said, “Gangs of London” is much more than a bloodier version of a “Fast & Furious” movie. This is cinematic action combined with an elaborate plot full of political intrigue that will have you hooked from beginning to end. I cannot wait for season 2.
Suck Factor: 1 out of 7 (7 Means Your Movie Really Sucks):
The Suck Factor, how it works. We have flipped the ratings system upside down. If it is a classic it gets 0 SUCKS! If it is complete trash, such as a Michael Bay movie, you receive a straight 7 SUCKS!