Brian Vernel’s Billy Wallace (Sean’s brother) is the Fredo Corleone of the story, struggling to live up to his father’s expectations before and after his death, with his excessive drug use and overall lack of ambition. Like Michael and Fredo, Billy and Sean’s relationship is complicated, but also endearing, as Sean does his best to keep his brother safe from himself. Hopefully, Billy won’t meet the same fate as Fredo… Time will tell.
Quietly observing all of the chaos in the background while Sean runs the family business is Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley as Finn’s widow, Marian Wallace. Like the Lady of Winterfell she once was, Fairley uses her commanding on-screen presence to great effect here, duplicitously playing the hurt widow while making moves of her own without Sean’s permission. In the same vein as her late husband, Marian has some enemies of her own, most notably her daughter, Jacqueline (Valene Kane), who appears to despise her mother for reasons unknown. In these first few episodes, there’s a suspenseful dual threat going where it’s unclear whether the Wallace family will be destroyed from within the family, or by outside forces.
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While the other crime organizations claim to be in unison with the Wallace family, everyone has their own particular interests at heart. Thankfully, Evans and Flannery give their gangsters a bit of backstory, by including character-building scenes with each crime boss with their families or in their respective communities. The diverse offering of criminals includes a Pakistani kingpin named Asif Afridi (Asif Raza Mir), and the most compelling adversary to the Wallace family early on is Narges Rashidi’s Lale, a Kurdish militant with a vendetta to settle and a diverting backstory that we won’t spoil here. The writer’s attention to detail with each of their characters, even if they’re only in a scene or two, really makes Gangs of London stand out from other titles within the same genre.
And last but certainly not least are the superbly choreographed fight sequences sprinkled throughout the three-episode premiere. Evans and Flannery, having worked together on both of The Raid films, have a keen understanding of how to create jaw-dropping action in every single frame of a fight. The majority of these high-octane brawls center on one of Wallace’s up-and-coming foot-soldiers, Elliot Finch (played by Humans’ Sope Dirisu). Dirisu’s character has a background in boxing, so while the fights are still very over-the-top, the combat still feels grounded and somewhat realistic for a guy who knows how to throw a punch — Dirisu isn’t flipping around and doing crazy kicks like Iko Uwais or Yayan Ruhian from The Raid franchise. Elliot’s storyline proves to be one of the most intriguing in the early episodes – and not just because he’s the focal point of so many incredible action sequences.