Peaky Blinders: The gritty, gripping and genuinely addictive crime drama is back

REVIEW: Britain’s response to Boardwalk Empire. A dark mirror for Downton Abbey. One of the most evocative and provocative period dramas of the past decade.

Peaky Blinders has arguably been all of that, as it charted the trials and tribulations of a Birmingham-based gang of criminals over five seasons so far.

With its sleek cinematography, sometimes shocking violence, tense scripts, brooding soundtrack (which has included more modern tunes from Radiohead, PJ Harvey, The White Stripes and even David Bowie) and charismatic cast (Tom Hardy, Paddy Considine, Adrien Brody and our very own Sam Neill are just a few of those who have already made an impact), he has attracted both an extremely loyal fanbase and new enthusiasts whenever word of mouth persuades them. finally immersing yourself.

However, their patience was tested. The wait for this sixth – and supposedly final – season has been endless. But now, about two and a half years after witnessing Tommy Shelby’s (Cillian Murphy) plan to assassinate a fascist politician – and a serious thorn in the side – Sir Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) is getting horribly pear-shaped, Kiwi UKTV and Sky viewers finally have the chance to see if the clueless crime boss has the will to carry on.

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The answers come immediately, with Brother Arthur (Paul Anderson) taking an option out of his hands and a phone call from the IRA confirming that they were the ones who intervened the night before because “we have to keep Mr Mosley alive”.

“We’ve also made some changes to the structure of your organization,” the caller informs him, just as a delivery of three bodies arrives at his doorstep. Much to Tommy’s horror, his beloved aunt and company ‘treasurer’ Polly (the late Helen McCrory, who died of cancer in April last year) is one of them.

Then, even as they gather to commemorate her life, her son Michael (Finn Cole) publicly swears vengeance, not only on those who killed her, but on the man “whose ambitions and strategies have caused this” – Tommy Shelby.

Cillian Murphy is Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders.

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Cillian Murphy is Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders.

Fast forward four years to December 1933 and a now-tea-total Tommy (“Since I gave up alcohol I have become a calmer, more peaceful person,” he tells a local bartender) arrived on the French island of Miquelon, just off the coast of Canada.

The era of Prohibition in the United States is about to end and he sees business opportunities, especially in a place where smuggling operations were vital to the local economy. Tommy arranged a meeting there, offering to use the island’s existing boats and his smuggling expertise to transport a new cargo for American consumption: opium. It’s the first time he’s seen Michael since Polly disappeared – and some resentment and suspicion remain.

“You’ve been too busy to punish the people who killed her,” Michael growls. “Sometimes revenge takes time – you have to pick your moment,” Tommy replies, with just the slightest hint of a smile.

Anya Taylor-Joy was a terrific addition to the already stellar cast.

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Anya Taylor-Joy was a terrific addition to the already stellar cast.

Murphy has always been a big reason to watch the show (it’s hard to believe now that the more muscular Jason Statham was originally the frontrunner for the role). Those hypnotic, steely eyes draw you to him, no matter what evil and deceitful deeds Tommy has committed or is plotting.

Yes, McCrory is a big loss, but the wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Bet) arriving as the ambitious American wife of Michael last season could yet prove to be a masterstroke.

Peaky Blinders has always oozed menace and wrung tension from every frame — and the season six opener is no exception.

What initially seems like a massive – and potentially tangential – narrative leap quickly becomes part of the story, setting us up for the next exciting weeks as Tommy sets his sights on a new high, all while dealing with problems in suspense from the past.

Peaky Blinders always oozed menace and wrung tension from every frame.

Provided

Peaky Blinders always oozed menace and wrung tension from every frame.

There is a well-defined sense of creator Stephen Knight (Taboo, Eastern promises) to try to wrap things up, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of twists, turns, thrills and spills before it’s all said and done (which will most likely include a big conclusion cinematographic).

Even six seasons later, it’s still one of the grittiest, gripping and genuinely addictive shows to come out of the UK this century.

The opening episode of season 6 of Peaky Blinders next screens at 3.35pm on UKTV from Sky TV today (Sunday). New episodes debut at 9:30 p.m. Monday nights. They are also available to stream on Sky Go. The first five seasons are all available to stream on Netflix.