Sacred Games: Season 1 – Review

Sacred Games is now streaming on Netflix.

By Greg Wheeler

Split between the perspective of two characters, Indian Netflix Original Sacred Games is an astonishing, unique show that mixes excellent cinematography and competent writing with well-rounded characters to produce one of the most impressive crime thrillers to be released this year. Spread across eight episodes, the plot unravels slowly while the action moves forward at breakneck speed, jumping from one well-shot action piece to the next while peppering the series with a unique ensemble of colorful characters keeping this one engaging and enthralling to watch.

The story begins simply enough with Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), a police officer struggling to live up to the lofty expectations of his father whose death casts an ominous shadow over his life. With corruption running deep in the police force, Singh receives an anonymous phone call tipping off the whereabouts of notorious crime lord Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who has been missing for 16 years. After an opening episode that sees Singh playing cat and mouse with the crime lord as he scrambles to track him down, what follows are a series of events that launch Singh’s investigation into this case while showing Ganesh’s rises to infamy in a series of flashbacks. All the while an ominous warning from Ganesh reveals in 25 days everyone will die, injecting the series with some much-needed urgency as Singh tries to solve the case.

For the most part, this dual focus works well, showcasing both characters’ journeys in stark contrast – Singh’s on the straight and narrow, haunted by the actions of his past, Ganesh’s forged in a gleeful river of blood and chaos. With numerous questions hanging over large stretches of the series, the final episode does a pretty good job wrapping up some of the loose ends, showing just what Ganesh’s true intentions are and what this means for India, while ending on an almighty cliffhanger that is sure to leave you wanting more when the credits roll.

If you haven’t heard of Directors Anurag Kashyap & Vikramaditya Motwane before, their style is felt all over these impressively shot eight episodes. There’s a real technicality to a lot of the action with a mixture of long and short shots, a real understanding of artistic framing and masterful use of color and lighting. The series doesn’t relinquish this aesthetic grip either, and the final episode is just as creative as the first, using a wide variety of technical abilities to help set Sacred Games apart from other thrillers in this genre. It’s worth noting too that the series is incredibly graphic and violent. Expect plenty of close-up gunshots, bloodshed, torture, sex, and expletives littered throughout the series and those with a weaker disposition may well be turned off from this.

Sacred Games is likely to be the Indian series that puts the country on the map. This is a surprisingly endearing series and one of the dark horses of the year for sure.

I give Sacred Games an A-.

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