Created by Gareth Evans (The Raid) and Matt Flannery and aired on Sky Atlantic in April 2020, Gangs of London is set in the heart of London when the most powerful criminal in London, Finn Wallace (Colm Meaney), is assassinated – and nobody knows who ordered the hit. With rivals everywhere, and the help of newcomer Elliot Finch (Sope Dirisu), it’s up to the impulsive Sean Wallace (Joe Cole) to take his father’s place. But Sean’s assumption of power causes ripples in the world of international crime within the streets of London.
Full of gripping performances, brilliantly choreographed graphic violence and even more sexual tension, Gangs of London is undoubtedly the best series of the year so far, and it will be hard for another to top the experience I’ve had with this immensely impressive crime drama.
Co-created by Gareth Evans, who also directed two of the episodes, I was excited for Gangs of London as soon as his name was mentioned. The Welsh filmmaker is best known for the 2011 Indonesian action film The Raid, as well as its 2014 sequel, so I knew there was going to be some great action involved. What I didn’t expect was for it to exceed my expectations in every way.
With a lot of brutal and gory violence, the bloodshed might be a little too much for some viewers, but it’s all a part of Evans’ creative style. There are many moments that make you wince and want to turn away, but the fight scenes are all so well choreographed, which is filmed alongside smooth rotating camera movements, that you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen.
Everything looks meticulously pristine, especially the mostly fresh-faced cast that lead this series to its unflinching heights. Joe Cole is absolutely brilliant. I’ve only just started watching Peaky Blinders so it’s been interesting to see the difference in his roles, as he takes his place at the head of the table, instead.
But the whole cast is phenomenal. There are some familiar faces including Michelle Fairley as Sean’s mother, who we’ve seen play the widowed wife in search for revenge before, but she has much more power here and is definitely a force to be reckoned with. There’s a lot of unfamiliar talent, as well, but they all impress equally as much, most notably Sope Dirisu, Brian Vernel, and Paapa Essiedu. And although there are a whole host of characters to remember, the entire cast ensures that they give a performance to remember them by.
With a complex story, intertwining character arcs, and a number of plot twists to keep the suspense up, Gangs of London will undoubtedly have you hooked. There are a few episodes that stand out, with Episode 5 being one of the most entertaining but Episode 4 giving an effective punch in the gut, but the series never dips in engagement or adrenaline.
I’m not sure how season two is going to work, but I just hope there’s a few more twists in the work. Whatever happens, I’m already eager to see more from all involved in this.