Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
Opens locally Thursday, December 29th, 2011 (exclusively at the Cass City Cinema, check for showtimes)
Run Time: 1 hours 43 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, Ray Winstone
Based on the novel by Ken Bruen
Written & Directed by William Monahan (directorial debut)
London Boulevard is a dead end. As far as gangster flicks go, it’s somewhere way below Snatch (a movie that this film tries to emulate in style), and slightly above Gigli.
Colin Farrell stars as Mitchell, the film’s central tough guy-former-gangster who is just getting out of prison as the film begins. His old crew tries to get him to return to his previous lifestyle once on the outside, but Mitchell has decided that the thug life is not for him anymore. He lands a paying job as a security guard for a reclusive movie star, Charlotte (Keira Knightley), who is overly fearful of the spotlight due to the paparazzi all around her. The lead mob boss in London, Gant (Ray Winstone), desperately wants Mitchell to join with him, but Mitchell refuses. As the tagline for the film reads, “not every criminal wants to be one.”
This film just doesn’t ring true, even within the noir realm in which it exists. There is no struggle that we see within Colin Farrell’s character…he plays Mitchell as too much of a bad-ass for us to believe he could be anything else. When the whole premise of the film is supposed to be about this guy trying to make changes in his life, it would be nice to see him truly fight against his past. But that premise is just a ruse for the filmmaker to bombard us with a multitude of clichés typical of the genre. The plot seemingly exists only to give Mitchell a reason to show off his repressed bad boy urges.
There is not one likeable soul in the film. Keira Knightley gives a Razzie-worthy performance as Charlotte, and David Thewlis is almost worse as her quirky chain-smoking manager. Ray Winstone looks cool and attempts to transcend the material, but it’s nearly impossible for him to rise above the mob boss clichés that the film requires.
The most maddening part of London Boulevard is that it is a boring film. For a crime movie chock-full of bad guys, I was really shocked at how slow and uneventful the film felt while watching it. First-time director William Monahan has an impressive resume as a screenwriter (The Departed is among the other stories that he’s adapted for the screen), but he attempts to pull off London Boulevard with so much forced style that it ends up oozing rookie mistakes. It attempts to be so stylish that it ends us devoid of style.
It’s interesting, that I keep considering the premise and plot of London Boulevard and it seems as if it should be a very cool film. Monahan should know that in the gangster business, you’re not going to last long if you can’t execute properly. London Boulevard is a treasure trove of poor execution.