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Review: Guerrilla (Showtime) – A miniseries about black oppression hijacked by an Indian woman

By on April 17, 2017

Guerrilla

Guerrilla

Guerrilla is John Ridley’s (12 Years A Slave, American Crime) latest masterpiece examining race relations. It is set in 1970s London and follows young couple Marcus (Babou Ceesay, A.D.) and Jas (Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire). He is black and she is Indian, and front and center is their radicalization under the influence of racism and police misconduct.

Marcus is the more moderate one; he has tried his best to make his life work in the current, flawed system, but has ultimately failed time and time again to get a proper job as an English teacher. Jas on the other hand is a determined activist and intent on creating upheaval in order to change society for the better. She is radicalizing fast, but Marcus is not entirely comfortable with that and keeps slowing her down and keeping the ultimate goal in mind every step of the way.

Initially leftist bohemians and peaceful protesters, the couple start to become violent after a friend of theirs is killed in unlawful police action. And that on top of another friend in prison, constant harassment by the police and endless unemployment,. Jas turns to her old lover Kent (Idris Elba, Luther) for help. But the story really starts when they break militant activist Dhari (Nathaniel Martello-White, Life Just Is) out of prison.

 

 

Pinto really makes Guerrilla her show, as she stands front and center in every protest and leads every charge. Although technically historically accurate, it is a shame that the only strong female lead is of Indian descent, and there is a general lack of strong black females. The only other strong female character is Fallon (Denise Gough, Titanic: Blood And Steel), the Irishwoman whose boyfriend’s death sets the whole thing in motion.

Ridley has succeeded once again in capturing the complicated image of a time that has long passed, but of which the echoes can still be heard in today’s world. While first and foremost about race relations, the show also addresses how easy it is for people to radicalize when they feel they are fighting for a just cause. It observes how Jas quickly becomes comfortable with wielding weapons and slowly but steadily moves more and more to a ends-justify-the-means mindset.

Guerrilla is a complicated six-episode miniseries that shows how desperate times call for desperate measures, but that those measures can often make things worse. For many people, Guerrilla can feel overwhelming, as its sparse dialogues are very information-heavy and its subject matter does not exactly feel inviting at first glance. But as its title suggests, there is also a lot of action in Guerrilla. Although when it truly gets nasty, the screen blacks out.

Guerrilla airs on Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.