McMafia BBC 1, iPlayer, written by Hossein Amini and James Watkins, directed by James Watkins.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p05pkszd/mcmafia-series-1-episode-1

I watched the first two episodes of McMafia and it’s great. I’ll be watching the other six. It’s based on a novel by Misha Glenny. I’ve not read it so I don’t know how good an adaptation it is. Not only does the director get the kudos of being the director, he also gets to play writer and gets half the writer’s pay. That’s the kind of leverage Theresa May would love when she’s trying and failing to work out a Brexit deal.

McMafia reminds me of The Godfather in some ways. Remember when Michael Corleone starts off a war hero and ex-marine that is squeaky clean that wants to settle down with Kay his girlfriend and start a family, and all he needs is papa’s blessing? We all know how that went.

Here we have fresh-faced Alex Godman (James Norton) that is squeaky clean and wants to settle down in London and become a successful hedge-fund billionaire and not rely on his old papa the ex-Moscow mafia boss.

The backstory is a bit Bill Browderish. Bill Browder, of course, is on Putin’s hit list for exposing how the Russian state stole his fortune and killed his friends. Then, of course, we’ve got the problem with polonium. It’s meant to be as rare as decent Brotherhood of Man single, but real people, former ‘businessmen’ from Moscow seem to keel over dead from uranium poisoning. That’s no good propaganda for Russia or the McMafia.

Here American actor David Strathairn plays former Moscovite and Jewish member of the Knesset,  Semiyon Kleiman who aims to topple his former nemesis Vadim Kalyagin (Merab Ninidze, who looks a bit like the current Swansea manager, contact your local M16 agent). Kalyagin is the kind of guy that is not on Putin’s hit list, the kind of guy that is on Putin’s speed dial. The kind of man that Bill Browder would recognise as a state-sponsored assassin.

McMafia doesn’t mean there’s a Scottish branch. They’re not like the Masons. Well, maybe they are a bit. But it refers to a bit of advice Kleiman gives young Goldman, McDonalds is the number one for fast food because quite simply there are more of them and they are everywhere. McKleiman and McGoldman must multiple until McKalyagin is reduced to washing cars and not laundering money. Worth watching. Go along  for the ride.

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2 thoughts on “McMafia BBC 1, iPlayer, written by Hossein Amini and James Watkins, directed by James Watkins.

  1. The book is well worth a read Jack. It’s factual and charts the rise of organised crime in Eastern Europe and Russia after the break up of the Soviet Union in the Eighties. Misha Glenny has cleverly taken parts of the book and made it into a “story of fiction”. In the book he refers to the men as “armed entrepreneurs” and says that Russia literally privatised crime.

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