A Town Called Malice
Being the youngest son of a south London crime syndicate (even if they’re no longer active) isn’t a recipe for a tranquil lifestyle – a fact Gene Lord (Jack Rowan) finds out the hard way through his romance with Cindy (Tahirah Sharif). A Town Called Malice is Sky’s new criminal thriller all about the testing of relationships, be they familial, romantic or entrepreneurial. When Cindy becomes a wanted criminal in her own right, will Gene stick by her side or return to the safe harbour of his family circle?
The story is engaging enough, posing questions and testing viewers’ allegiances. Intentionally and effectively varied, the pacing is sometimes ponderous, while at other times events pour forth suddenly in a dramatic torrent. The script and the characterisation are nothing revolutionary, but they’re not as bad as their delivery would have the viewer believe. There are some pretty poor performances showcased in A Town Called Malice, not least, unfortunately, from the romantic leads.
What is more, the show is over-edited to a visually dismaying degree. A plethora of multi-coloured fades guide the way between scenes and over-decorated split screens are rife. It’s puzzling given that the project is evidently high-budget, the result of a genuine yet misguided artistic decision.
Unusually for a quite serious thriller about criminal exploits, this one is all about the music. Set in south London in the 80s, the series makes a huge feature of iconic tracks from the era, sometimes even prompting fourth-wall breaking lip-synced asides from the otherwise earnest characters. This is novel, certainly, and a bit amusing, but it does chip away at the sinister facade that surrounds them.
On the whole, A Town Called Malice is a slightly baffling watch. The edit is chaotic, the fourth wall is broken in the least likely moments and the feel-good musical theatre trope that pops up intermittently is, though also comical, a little confusing.
A Town Called Malice is released on Sky on 16th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for A Town Called Malice here: