Power, greed, corruption and crime on the streets of East London. Anyone seen this one before?
It would be easy to be cynical about this latest British crime drama but there are a few angles here that set Twenty8k above the average such as the cast – Dillane and Nagra, the increasingly impressive Socha and Burley – and the fact that it’s written by Paul Abbott, the man behind Shameless, State of Play, Clocking Off and more.
It’s not, to be fair, Abbott’s best work, but Abbott on an average day is still better than many writers at their best. The story revolves around a teenager, Vipon (Nanena), who’s been arrested from a fatl ganag shooting. The evidence – as compiled by DCI Stone (Dillane) – suggests it’s cut and dried, with video footage of Vipon holding the murder weapon. Vipon’s sister Deeva (Nagra) isn’t convinced though. Her brother has never been in trouble and she starts her own investigation, rapidly uncovering a web of political corruption, prostitution and murder that spreads far beyond the East End.
One of the most impressive things – aside from the very familiar story somehow seeming fresh – is how the ethnicity of the various characters doesn’t come into play. This isn’t racially divisive or racially motivated in any way, it’s just people. It’s kind of refreshing to see and probably a fairer reflection of London’s culture, and it’s also good to see Nagra get a meaty role. She’s utterly convincing as the young woman forced out of her comfort zone and into extreme behaviour to prove her brother’s innocence.
There are weaknesses. As pretty as Scodelario is, she can’t do much with this pretty thankless part, and some of the supporting characters are straight out of central casting for the genre. Happily the good bits outweigh the limitations - Socha is particularly good as a young criminal who’s air of menace isn’t necessarily what it appears – making Twenty8k one of the better entries in this field for several years.