Hailed as “a modern crime family masterpiece” by Rotten Tomatoes, Gangs of London is now available to binge, first on Showmax.
More info about Gangs Of London
Nominated earlier this year for both a BAFTA and a Hollywood Critics’ Association Award for Best Drama, as well as an Emmy for its stunts, Gangs of London tells the story of a city torn apart in the wake of the assassination of Finn Wallace (Golden Globe nominee Colm Meaney from Layer Cake), the head of its most powerful crime family.
The 10-part series, which has a 91% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is the latest offering from action auteur Gareth Evans (who wrote and directed the multi-award-winning Indonesian martial arts crime classics The Raid and The Raid 2) and his co-writer and cinematographer Matt Flannery.
As Rolling Stone says, “Gangs of London will grab you by the scruff of the neck, hurl you against a wall, and remind you with repeated blunt force that the show comes from Gareth Evans, one of the great action directors alive.”
The cast is led by BAFTA nominee Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) as heir-apparent Sean Wallace and 2021 Critics’ Choice Super nominee Sope Dìrísù (His House) as Wallace-empire footsoldier Elliot Finch. Emmy nominee Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You); BAFTA nominee Lucian Msamati (His Dark Materials, Game of Thrones); Screen Actors’ Guild nominee Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones’ Catelyn Stark); and BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Award winner Ray Panthaki (Away, Marcella) co-star.
There are lots of African connections among the cast: Sope’s family is Nigerian and Paapa’s Ghanaian, while Lucian was raised in Zimbabwe by Tanzanian parents. Nigerian-born actor Jude Akuwudike (Fortitude, Beasts of No Nation) and Ethiopian-born multiple SAFTA nominee Pamela Nomvete (Lockdown, Sometimes in April) also have recurring roles.
Gareth Evans comments on his Gangs Of London approach
“We didn’t want to revisit those familiar gangster tropes, so a large part of our remit was to find a unique way into the story. We wanted it to be about family and relationships that get torn apart by the sins of the father, something that felt operatic and cinematic. Within that, there’s a story mushrooming out from a single event to a lot of different cultures and a diverse cast.”
The variety of characters, cultures, and languages – including Albanian, Danish, Kurdish, Urdu and Gareth’s native Welsh – reflected in the cast were vital to anchoring the story firmly in the cultural melting pot that is modern-day London.
As Lucian puts it, they’re “showing London in its truest light: multicultural, multiracial, multinational – it is the London of now. Those who would be considered the establishment are not all old, crusty, white people any more. Times have changed and I liked that the script has been unapologetic about that. We’re not resorting to clichés.”
But let’s not forget that all those diverse characters are, mostly, very bad people. This is not the London the tourists see. Executive producer Lucas Ochoa (The Witch) says, “London has become a global centre for money laundering, crossing over with politics, big business, policing, corruption, property, black market, the deep state of government… Gareth has created a sort of Gotham to play out that fable with these clans in the middle of it, from all corners of the empire and now making their homes in London.”
But while our investment lies with the powerfully portrayed human stories in the battle for the streets, alleyways and secret boardrooms of London, it’s the action that steals the spotlight here.
“When we started designing the fight sequences,” Gareth says, “myself and the stunt coordinator, Jude Poyer, worked to find aspects that could feel like a nod to the culture in question. So, for example, I knew we wanted to use ashtrays and darts as weapons in a pub fight. But we also had to adapt to suit a person’s physique and muscle memory, as we did with the Raid films.”
“We knew we needed someone for Elliott who was capable of doing the choreography we were designing,” he adds. “Enter Sope, an incredible actor and performer. Chris Wright, who trained Sope, came down from the first fight assessment saying, ‘This guy can move!’ The more we saw him train and rehearse, we realised he could do quite a lot of the sequences – we were using him for 85-90% of the action by the end. He brought everything to it. I started treating him like a fighter as much as an actor – we had no right to put him in some of the fights we did!”
And the 10 to 15 percent of the stunts Sope didn’t do himself? Those earned his stunt double, Mens-Sana Tamakloe, known for his work on blockbusters from Inception, Skyfall and the Mission Impossible films to three of the Star Wars films and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a 2021 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Stunt Performance.
Watch the trailer for Gangs Of London below:
As The Atlantic puts it, “Gangs of London exists on a fully realized plane of its own, where brutality is power, death is inevitable, and even the pigeons are on cocaine. I love it. I cannot get enough of this show.”
Be warned: neither will you. Thankfully Gangs of London has already been confirmed for a second season, due to premiere in 2022, pandemic permitting.
Interested? Start streaming Gangs Of London on Showmax NOW!
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