Glitzy financial thriller that races around at breakneck speed while slowing the brain down with its style and content

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Making a TV show revolving around international bankers contains the same inherent issues as dramas about estate agents, car dealers or mass murderers: really, who is there to root for? OK, yes, that’s just being wilfully unreasonable. After all, sometimes a series like Dexter will come along where you can empathise with a killer. In Devils (not much of a clue in the title there), the high-paced world of financial chicanery is filled with sharks, snakes and worms, plus one curly hipster moustache that utterly dominates each scene in which it appears. We know it’s a high-paced world because of the frenetic nature of the editing, which is more likely to result in a migraine than an understanding of who’s doing what to whom and why.

People arrange dinner meetings for 11pm and are gulping down a nice cup of backstabbing by 5am, leaving more messes to clean up than the Lehman Brothers have had hot short-selling sessions. At one point (let’s call that moment Exposition 101), one experienced financier explains to another experienced financier what short-selling is. Allowing the former to finish his Wiki-synopsis, the latter haughtily blurts, ‘I know what shorting is!’ Still, he leaves enough of a gap that could be filled with, ‘but thanks for letting these layperson viewers in on it’.

To the story, then. Based on an Italian novel from 2014, it centres on the monetary crises facing world markets three years prior, with Greece and Ireland particularly facing dire economic straits. Naturally, some people are doing very well out of other folk’s misery, and to that end we’re introduced to top-ranking CEO Dominic Morgan (Patrick Dempsey) and his brooding protégé Massimo Ruggero (Alessandro Borghi). The very public death of a rival within their firm (immediate shades there of last year’s glossy financial drama Industry) draws suspicion from the most lackadaisical police duo ever put to screen while further secrets and lies crop up every few minutes.

The Devils plot attempts to thicken while the viewer’s blood keeps boiling, as we endure the TV equivalent of one 50-minute pop video after another, all loud and glitzy with the occasional slice of slo-mo. Hats off to anyone who can stomach more than a handful of episodes. Wall Street this is not. You might even want to investigate the previously mentioned Industry which, despite its own failings, will act as a palate cleanser.

Sky Atlantic, Wednesdays, 9pm; all episodes available now on NOW TV.

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Last modified: February 23, 2021

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