This fast-paced, nail-biting thriller series by Stephen Garrett, the executive producer behind TV series such as Spooks and The Night Manager and director and screenwriter J Blakeson, self-confessed thriller-addict, tells the story of a crew of elite criminals, who, years after going their separate lives, suddenly start being hunted down one by one by a ruthless assassin.
Although filmed in seven different countries, the action takes the viewer to Italy, the United States, Britain and Norway. The pilot episode kick-starts in Lombardy, where an older guy in a bathrobe is frantically running through a luxurious villa, trying to escape from a masked man, who finally catches up with him at the front of the house and shoots him dead next to his yellow Lamborghini.
From there, we are taken to the U.S.A., where we meet the main protagonist, Joe, played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (The Night Manager, Candyman, Misfits…), who appears to have a normal life in a suburban town with his husband (Kevin Vidal, from Strays, Workin’ Moms…) and their two children. He has recently purchased a commercial unit to start a business and except for the usual racial harassment by the police, his life, like him, seems as gentle and docile as one could possibly imagine.
Culprits preview trailer:
However, very soon we realise there is more than meets the eye with Joe, as we are shown flashbacks to his previous life in London, where he is the bodyguard of some dubious businessman, whom he saves from an ambush by getting rid of half a dozen men all by himself. Next, we are back to the present and see him going in the middle of the night to a forest nearby – being cut down to make room for a highway – and collecting a hidden bag with an insane amount of sterling pounds in it.
Soon after, another flashback scene introduced us to Dianne (played by Gemma Arterton), a cold and unscrupulous woman who seems to be the mastermind of the heist who somehow, three years into the future, is seeing Joe and his family in mortal danger, together with everyone else involved in that theft.
Gemma Arterton as Dianne, the mastermind of a daring robbery undertaken three years before in London, now having Joe (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and anybody else involved in it, in mortal danger.
I won’t tell you anymore in order not to spoil the show for you, but I will tell you that the script is ace and the performances of all the actors quite remarkable. Most of them had previously worked with either Garrett, Blakeson or producer Morenike Williams (Killing Eve).
After the preview of the first two episodes, which took place at one of the BFI locations in London, I had the chance to chat to Stephen Garrett, who told me a bit about the casting process. He explained that when the script was written, the team really had no specific names in mind for any of the roles. But when it was completed, he realised that each actor was bringing their own personal flavour and spirit to their character, which made the process very refreshing.
Culprits is available to stream from Disney+ in the UK and Ireland, from Wednesday 8th November.
I’d bring your attention to British actress Kirby (Killing Eve, Why Women Kill, The Sandman…). She plays one of the members of the team that partakes in the heist in London, and I was particularly impressed by her guile and playful finesse.
Words: Papa S Abebrese
Images and trailer: Courtesy of Disney+