A stand out performance from Nabhaan Rizwan punctuates a very good story about radicalisation, terrorism and the morally questionable methods deployed by defence agencies to gain intelligence about potential plots against the state.
Raza Shar (Rizwan) is an intellectually charismatic young man who has yet to find his passion in life. Living in a secular and extremely liberal South Asian family on one of London’s sink-pot estates, he is popular, friendly and a role model for his younger brother Nasir. Splitting his time between working long hours in a factory so that he can provide financially for his family and spending time with his girlfriend, he falls into a bad crowd and starts pushing class B drugs to his peers. Unaccustomed to the dangers of mixing with an increasingly volatile crowd he lands himself in hot water with the police and what should be committing a relatively small misdemeanour turns out to have life changing consequences.
Away from the public gaze, a network of jihadi cells are scheming unleash a wave of attacks across several key cities in Europe. In a race against time, anti-terror newbie DC Holly Morton (Bel Powley) is taken under the wing of unstable veteran DS Gabe Waters (Paddy Considine) as they race against time to foil the perpetrators. The storyline interweaves the complex machinations of life amongst the capital’s forgotten poor and their constant exposure to dark forces with the gritty world of undercover surveillance and the collateral damage that some espionage tactics ignite.
Some of the camera work and set lighting adds to the aura of the murky environment in which the characters exist. There are a number of exquisitely grim cinematographic moments which help the audience empathise with the predicament the main protagonists operate within- on one such occasion Powley and Water’s characters meet with an informant amongst dilapidated railway arches and it is shot as if you don’t know who could be watching from afar.
I always enjoy Sunetra Shah’s portrayal of a conflicted but headstrong mother- one of the few things that made Ackerley Bridge bearable- and there is a superb supporting subplot lead by Jessica Raine as the tormented wife of DC Waters who slowly but surely realises she may not actually know the man she has married.
Great content by the BBC which is sensitive to the idiosyncrasies of cultural differences but manages to paint a worryingly accurate picture of the ideological mantras young people become exposed to due to circumstances beyond their control.
Viewed: February 2021