For the past decade, Gareth Evans has made a name for himself as a filmmaker, thanks to films like Apostle and The Raid movies. Now, Evans has transitioned from the big to the small screen with his new epic crime TV series, Gangs of London. What essentially plays out over the nine installments of this first season is a power struggle that has erupted between rival gangs, who all seek complete control over a criminal empire, Running parallel to that is the Wallace crime organization, that’s fighting amongst themselves following the death of the father of the family, the catalyst that sets the events of this series into motion. At the centre of all this is the main protagonist in Elliot who on the inside of the Wallace family, but is seeking justice and retribution.
As the story progresses and the violence escalates, we see various characters’ loyalties shift, fall apart and break to various degrees, and all this makes for exciting viewing. We are constantly teased with likely outcomes for where some of these characters could be heading. That is until the narrative takes many different twists, subverting our own expectations, many characters are brutally slain left and right, making it feel as though any character could be bumped off at any given moment. Admittedly, there are some contrivances to be found here to get certain characters to a specific destination, but it’s to the strength of the pacing, of the craft, and of the performances that you hardly notice any of these certain nitpicks. The characters involved in this sprawling narrative have many dimensions to them, with every one of their motivations becoming more evident and clear with each passing episode. There is also the larger context of international corruption playing a key part here, neatly woven into the story throughout and becoming much more important and prevalent by the series’ end.
Caught within this web of corruption and betrayal is Elliot, who is played phenomenally by rising star Sope Dirisu, who brings raw humanity to the role. As we go on this journey with him, you feel the emotion and the pain he’s going through. Dirisu conveys that perfectly and here’s hoping we see much more of him in the future. The other performers do their job well with Michelle Fairley and Lucian Msamati especially excelling in their respective roles, while Narges Rashidi is utterly compelling as the mobster with personal goals of her own. Having knocked the action out of the park in The Raid movies, the action sequences here are no slouch either. Maintaining that raw, visceral yet balletic quality that The Raid movies had in spades, and once the gunfire starts and the punches are dealt with, it’s really hard to look away despite a lot of bloody, bone-crunching antics happening on display.
Gangs of London is a riveting series that completely hooks you in from start to finish, constantly surprising you and enthralling you. The action choreography is top-notch, the production values are amazing, the cast is solid and the narrative is multi-layered enough to keep you fascinated and intrigued across the nine-episode runtime. Gareth Evans has shown that he is a true force of nature, whether it’s on the big screen or on the small one.
Dir: Gareth Evans, Corin Hardy, Xavier Gens
Scr: Gareth Evans, Matt Flannery, Claire Wilson, Peter Berry, Joe Murtagh, Lauren Sequeira, Peter Berry, Carl Joos
Starring: Joe Cole, Sope Dirisu, Lucian Msamati, Michelle Fairley, Mark Lewis Jones, Narges Rashidi, Parth Thakerar, Asif Raza Mir, Valene Kane, Brian Vernel, Jing Lusi, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Orli Shuka, Richard Harrington, Jude Akuwudike, Emmett J. Scanlan
Number of Episodes: 9
Episode Run time: 53-93mins
Gangs of London: Season One is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.