Guerrilla is set in London, 1971, a time of racism and white people against black people, a time I’d like to think we’ve got far away from, although even today, the police are stuck in that horrendous stone age.
Politically-active couple Jas (Freida Pinto – Slumdog Millionaire) and Marcus (Babou Ceesay – Free Fire) are trying to make their way in the capital, despite being done down at every turn, such as when Marcus goes for a job interview, tells them that he used to teach English to immigrants, and tried to change certain elements within the curriculum, resulting in the interviewer responding, “So you were a trouble maker?”, stopping Marcus in his tracks.
Along the way, they’re both trying to free a man in prison called Dhari (Nathaniel Martello-White), and despite it being the ’70s, they’re still wearing ’60s clothes, as the two leads explained on Sunday Brunch last weekend that back then, poor people still wore clothes from the previous decade.
Behind it all, the pair are being watched by the force’s Black Power Desk in Special Branch, fronted by DCI Nicholas Pence (Rory Kinnear – Spectre) and his deputy, Cullen (Daniel Mays – Line of Duty). They’re tasked with attempting to take down this new movement.
The series also stars Idris Elba (Luther), but where exactly does his character fit into all of this?
It looks like some kind of alternate past, along the lines of SS-GB, but this was reality. And a horrible one, at that.
Overall, Guerrilla powerful and compelling, but it’s also a slow-burner and is difficult to assess from just two episodes. However, it’s certainly evoking the period and tensions of the time with police brutality and very strong language, the latter sometimes coming from the police. It’s certainly got potential, but there are six episodes to the series, and with only two available for preview, it feels like I’m reviewing 1/3 of a movie at this point.
Update on May 5th: Having now seen this to the end, I felt like after the big scene in episode 4 – which you will have seen last night (or some time ago if you’ve seen it all on Sky Go), it rather goes downhill from there, just at the moment when you’re expecting it to ramp up. And while there’s a clever scene in the final episode, the ending seemed like a complete cop-out.
Episodes 1 & 2 Score: 8/10
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Directors: Sam Miller and John Ridley
Producer: Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo
Writers: John Ridley and Misan Sagay
Jas Mitra: Freida Pinto
Marcus Hill: Babou Ceesay
Kent: Idris Elba
DCI Pence: Rory Kinnear
Cullen: Daniel Mays
Julian: Nicholas Pinnock
Dhari: Nathaniel Martello-White
Omega Christine Moore: Zawe Ashton
Ronnie Pence: Abraham Lewis
Emily Pence: Neve McIntosh
PC Potts: Stewart Lockwood
Klaus: Giorgio Spiegelfeld
Georg: Roger Keasten
Katja Meyer: Lily Catalifo
Freidrich: Sebastian Urzendowsky
Leroy: Brandon Scott
Chief Supt Ackerley: Rob Jarvis
Fallon: Denise Gough
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.