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It may be a few weeks before the second season of Gangs of London — the ultra-violent crime series created by The Raid filmmaker Gareth Evans — lands on AMC+ in the U.S., but U.K. audiences can now watch the latest blood-soaked, body-count amassing thrill ride through the British capital.
Launching on Comcast’s Sky on Thursday (the first season broke records for the Sky Atlantic channel in 2020), Gangs of London season 2 — once again produced by Pulse Films and Sister — follows a similar theme of rival kingpins and crime families colluding and colliding in their bid for control of London’s underworld, often through the most violent means possible.
“For season 1, we all mucked in together and tried to put in everything that we loved and believed in to raise the genre mix in a family saga like this, and we hoped it would go down well, so it was great that we got such a fantastic response,” said Corin Hardy, speaking at a special event held in London on Wednesday. Hardy, who directed four episodes of season 1 following his horror smash The Nun, took over from Evans as lead writer and director for season 2.
“So it is really about having the backing to continue that and not fuck it up, and continue that DNA and maintain what everyone loved, but also add the twists and action,” he added.
For Thomas Benski, the former head of Pulse and who first starting putting together the project that would become Gangs of London (which was initially a video game), the main objective was to build on what had been created by Evans and his writing partner Matt Flannery.
“Our role was to just take that and continue the legacy,” he said. “But [Hardy] is being very modest. Literally, he stepped in and with the first word he wrote I feel like he understood. He understood it straight away and he definitely didn’t fuck it up.”
Jane Featherstone, the co-founder of production powerhouse Sister, said that Gangs of London brought an unusual flavor of grandiose U.S TV to the U.K. “We make great dramas here, but we don’t make epic dramas so much, and in America they always have this incredible landscape, and I think the team have turned London into this epic landscape,” she said.
Back for another round of bruising punch-ups is lead star Ṣọpẹ Dìrísu, who as the ex-squaddie turned undercover cop Elliot Finch in the first season is now finding life even tougher as he’s forced to become a hitman for a shady group of billionaires known as the investors.
“It’s like his autonomy has been taken away from him,” said Dìrísu. “So whereas in the first season, he had the power to walk into a bar and beat everyone up, now he’s not in control of his own movements or decisions, so he’s repressed and lost.”
Alongside Dìrísu, returnees for season 2 include Paapa Essiedu, Lucian Msamati, Michelle Fairley, Orli Shuka, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Brian Vernel, Narges Rashidi, Asif Raza and Valene Kane. But a major new player has entered the fray in Koba, played by acclaimed Palestinian actor Waleed Zuaiter (Baghdad Central, Omar). A brutal gang leader — with bleached hair and a penchant for maroon velour tracksuits — Koba wants to preside over London criminality like a dictatorship and is only too happy to use rival’s families — previously sacred ground — against them.
“For Koba, it’s all about domination,” said Zuaiter. “One of the most interesting things in the description of the character that I got from [writer] Tom Butterworth was that, at his core, Koba knows that you’re either predator or prey. And so he’s always one step ahead. And I think that’s what is unique about him is that he has these very primal animalistic instincts in that he can smell out of his prey and he likes to play with his food before he eats it.”
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