Episode 1 – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Gangs Of London is a show of two halves. The brilliant, bloody, brutal opening five episodes pave way for a moody, melodramatic and miffed plot line that peters out for a more relaxed four episodes to close the show with. It’s still good but it’s not edge-of-your-seat excitement like the first half was and it’s a shame because Gangs Of London is at its strongest during its action sequences. These are easily some of the best on the small screen in quite some time too.
For the first five episodes, the show delivers a hedonistic cocktail of big action set pieces back-dropped by a Wild West war as the families wrestle for control of London. It’s easy to look past some of the contrived dialogue or the spotty acting at times because the action and pacing is so good here. Episode 5 in particular will go down as one of the best episodes of TV this year and the masterful balancing of sound design and action makes this such a compelling slice of drama.
Before we get there though, the story in Gangs Of London borrows elements from other crime epics but manages to blend them into an intriguing enough set-up without ever feeling like a carbon copy or rip-off. Finn Wallace, the crime boss overseeing affairs in London, is shot dead by two nobodies on a hired hit. With his son Sean taking the reigns of the business, Sean’s vengeance runs deep as he sets out to discover just who betrayed and killed his Father. Between individual power plays inside the organisation, lots of bad blood and tensions with the Albanian mafia, there’s a volatile cocktail of set-pieces just waiting to be played with.
The real wild card though comes from Elliot, a man who works on Finn Wallace’s pay-roll and finds himself caught in the middle of this growing war as he uncovers crucial intel and starts to gain Sean’s trust. With a breadcrumb of information that Sean and the others chase, this ultimately leads them on a hunt for the two boys responsible.
The second half of the show reveals who’s been pulling the strings all this time and slows the pace right down, instead turning this big, sprawling crime epic into a more rehearsed affair as the individual pieces fall into place and the writers attempt to tie up the loose threads raised throughout, leaving things wide open for a second season in the process.
As mentioned earlier, it’s ultimately the action that makes this show so endearing and it’s here Gangs Of London really shines. Whether it be a tense sniper shoot-out down a dingy alleyway or an all-out assault on a safe-house in the middle of Wales, there’s a lot of amazing cinematography and gritty violence that keeps this show feeling fresh and exciting.
The cast do well in their roles too, although at times the dialogue does feel a little contrived and forced. In the moment though, the show is perfectly fine as the action and tension is enough to overshadow this but again, the second half of the show is where this is more noticeable and it does hold the show back slightly. Despite that, the characters themselves are interesting and diverse, with plenty of depth and some great commentary on class too.
Despite some issues with the second half of the story, Gangs Of London is a thoroughly enjoyable crime epic and one that does a great job blending graphic violence and big action set pieces with an interesting story surrounding power in London. While the plot does lose its way during the second half and a couple of the characters don’t get a great send-off, there’s enough to like about this one to make it well worth a watch, flaws and all.
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Verdict - 8/10