Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior, Ron Perlman, Tommy Flanagan, Kim Coates, Maggie Siff, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, Harold Perrineau, Jimmy Smits, Walton Goggins, Ashley Tisdale, Joel McHale,
Running Time: 677 minutes
Sons Of Anarchy returns for a fifth season and it’s the first season I’ve watched myself. Despite this obvious hindrance when viewing I was immediately gripped and entertained throughout. How much higher can you praise a show than merely stating that it left me wishing I’d been there from the beginning? On the surface, it may seem like a machismo biker show, but it travels to much darker and involving depths. Sons Of Anarchy charts the rise and fall of certain criminal organisations and gangs, with the focus being on the titular biker gang. Where it succeeds in being so much more is the dramatic and theatrical elements, such as clear illusions to the likes of Shakespeare.
The writing is stunning for the most part, with previous plot details inserted into continuing storylines without feeling forced or too much like a recap. This will allow for new viewers to join the party without feeling alienated, though they may need a bit of patience to see relationships play out effectively. Charlie Hunnam plays Jax, the recently elected leader of The Sons after the death of his father at the hands of Clay (Perlman). It’s now his job to run business as well as keeping control of his controlling and unstable mother (Sagal), on top of mediating business with the vengeful Pope (Perrineau). After five years it’s obviously a lot more complicated than that, and one of the show’s pitfalls would be a few too many plot strands running at once. It’s sometimes hard to engage in all the plots, when you would much rather they cut to something you’re enthralled by.
Performance wise, Sons Of Anarchy can’t be beat. Sagal is astonishing, especially when compared to her roles in sitcoms and as the voice of Leela in Futurama. Hunnam proves why he has become a target for Hollywood directors as a leading man, being able to command both respect from other characters as well as the audience. No character is free from complexity, and not a single one can be easily described. The chemistry among the main cast allows for every scene to be filled with dialogue that plays off each other, as well as allowing guest stars to slip right into the centre of proceedings. Jimmy Smits is a fantastic addition as a charming ‘companionator’, and Walton Goggins as the humorous transvestite Venus Van Damme. Best of all though is Perrineau, playing a cold and calculating business man who proves a real threat to The Sons.
It must be said that the show falls back on a few comfortable and repetitive techniques, such as closing montages backed by songs, and the female characters just trying to run rings around each other, but on the whole its non-stop excellence. Mixing everything that makes a great TV show, from wonderfully developed characters, a sizzling soundtrack, and the ability to switch between intense surprises, biting humour, and enough action and violence to live up to its manly exterior. Brutality and heart is a rare combination, but Sons Of Anarchy does it with style and wit.