So, it appears that Fearless Admin and I weren’t the only ones to appreciate Mr. Malahide’s performance as old-school Cockney crim (although lacking an East End maudlin heart) George Cornelius in “Luther“. Reviews have been mostly positive, with the Examiner being particularly complimentary:
As for breakout performances, Elba, Malahide and Haddock led the pack as their characters seemed to operate under a level of good and evil that often got mixed up along the way. […] [Elba] gave Luther a sense of danger, charm and ruthlessness that made him fascinating to watch regardless of Luther’s actions. He also had a strong rapport with Malahide and Haddock as potential friends or foes if he wasn’t too careful. Malahide, on the other hand, had the challenging task of playing a villain and a man with his own strong code of code [sic] that needed to be honored if someone broke his rules. He made Cornelius an intellectual type of gangster who often used his words rather than his actions to prove how lethal he was without having to lift a finger. Malahide’s Cornelius provided that he could be a good long term addition if the show does come back again.
Well, I’d certainly agree that Mr. Malahide had one of the break-out performances, and that George Cornelius seemed to form a sort of rapport with Idris Elba’s Luther. Luther appeared to understand where Cornelius was coming from as an old-school gangster – although I suspect George wasn’t that old school, but liked to project the image that he was. Perhaps the most “old school” thing about him was that he did seem to be operating under his own code of conduct (I think that’s what the author meant to say) where certain behaviour would be frowned upon, even by gangsters. And while we didn’t see too much of George’s “lethality”, the element of danger might’ve been enhanced if he had better help; the hitmen pursuing Luther were rather rubbish at their jobs. But the reviewer is correct about George using his words; he did seem to enjoy one-upping Luther with word (and mind) games, more than he might’ve enjoyed actual violence. He was quite witty and intelligent, in his own uniquely loopy sort of way. I’d probably start watching on a regular basis if George was a recurring character.
The Daily Mail was impressed enough to suggest that George Cornelius should have his own show:
Malahide played him with such aplomb and suppressed malevolence, in the absence of any more episode [sic] of Luther the BBC could [do] a lot worse than give Cornelius his own series.
I’d love to see that too, although the compliment was somewhat ameliorated by their later misidentifying Mr. Malahide as “Jack Regan’s boss” in “The Sweeney“. No, no, Daily Mail! That was Garfield Morgan! Admittedly, he went on to play D.S. Chisholm’s boss in “Minder on the Orient Express“, but really, the only similarity is that both “Minder” and “The Sweeney” are cop shows involving Mr. Malahide and Dennis Waterman. Two seconds with Google could’ve prevented this error, but at least they got the “aplomb” and “suppressed malevolence” parts right.
The Express also found George Cornelius to be an interesting, enjoyable character:
I was particularly taken with his arrest/kidnapping of Islington “gangster” George Cornelius (Patrick Malahide). The suspect looked like an upstanding member of the gentlemen criminal fraternity, wearing a suit and tie, and not living in a drug squat.
But Luther had him down for ordering the apparent killing of his pet serial killer Alice Morgan. We all remember her.
So he grabbed poor George on the doorstep, threw him in the boot of his tatty, but roomy H-reg Volvo, smacked the son with an open car door (nice), and sped to his own house where he chained him to a radiator.
We were then entertained by George’s cultured cockney accent, which was a cut above the ordinary; as is Mr Malahide himself. Who couldn’t appreciate the line: “I don’t care if you’re effing Sting!”
I love the description of George Cornelius as “an upstanding member of the gentlemen criminal fraternity”. He certainly was, to the point of being surprisingly amiable and articulate even after being beaten up, manhandled, thrown into a car boot, and handcuffed to a radiator (that suit was never going to be the same again). But even his patience only went so far, since he did “greenlight” Luther afterwards. And the author is absolutely right that George’s “cultured cockney accent”, and Mr. Malahide himself, are “a cut above the ordinary”. I would happily watch George in his own show… perhaps a cooking show. He seemed to have a real flair for it, and they could intersperse cooking segments with his crime lord activities. How many crime lords can say they’re also gourmet chefs?
But seriously, “Luther’s” truncated two-episode season meant that we didn’t get the chance to see as much of George Cornelius as we might’ve liked, although what we did see was memorable and a lot of fun. I’d love to see him come back to provide Luther with assistance – and/or difficulties and complications – from the other side of the law, in his own inimitable style.