Review: London Boulevard

Starring: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightly, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis

Director: William Monahan

Freshly released from Pentonville prison and determined not to return to his criminal past, Mitchell finds work as a minder for reclusive movie star Charlotte, with whom he develops a relationship. However, old friends embroil Mitchell in the plans of East End crime boss Gant and Mitchell is forced to confront him.

I have a very low tolerance for British gangster movies. There’s only a handful that have ever really engaged me. The Long Good Friday, Sexy Beast and Get Carter rank among those few. London Boulevard, unfortunately, doesn’t. Which is a shame because, with a cast like this, it should have had something going for it.

Based on the novel by Ken Bruen, London Boulevard is the directorial debut of screenwriter William Monahan, who penned the excellent The Departed for Martin Scorsese. And while I’m very much looking forward to Monahan’s recently announced Becket, it’s not down to any overwhelming promise on display here.

I’ve never been one to condemn a movie simply because it doesn’t have a particularly original storyline. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the most unoriginal movies of the last year. But when you’re churning out yet another criminal-trying-to-go-straight-but-unable-to-escape-his-past tale, you have to bring something extra to the table and this movie just doesn’t do that.

Colin Farrell, who usually brings an abundance of personality to his roles, struggles to imbue Mitch with anything remotely approaching character. But that may be because he’s having so much trouble nailing the London accent. Instead, Mitch is one of those protagonists that leave you rather cold. Noble as his attempts at redemption may be, you never really care if he achieves it or not. He’s just the wrong side of being a dick to really care about.

Knightly seems equally adrift in a role which gives her little to do except look miserable and offer pouty looks to Farrell, who returns the favour by raising his eyebrows a bit. The chemistry between the two is non-existent and the development of their relationship is hurried, clumsy and far too restricted by the need to proceed to the next tough-guy scene.

Enter Ray Winstone as sinister, powerful psychopath Gant. Entertaining as his scenes are, this is the kind of role that Winstone can do in his sleep. And sometimes he looks and sounds like he might be doing just that. Maybe he’s just as bored as we are. In a movie crammed with completely unsympathetic characters, at least Gant is supposed to be.

Colin is less than impressed with Ray’s Michael Caine impersonation

The only actor who really engages is David Thewlis as the wasted, acerbic and surprisingly violent actor Jordan. His is a character that truly surprises, the only one in the movie that does, and the film sparkles just a little whenever he is on screen. Sadly, he’s not on screen long enough to rescue London Boulevard from being just another boring British gangster movie filled with another group of boring characters.

Still, it does have a good soundtrack.

Rating – 1 Star

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12 people thought reading “Review: London Boulevard” would be a good idea. Stranger still, they left messages...

  1. rtm

    Oy, another bad review on this one. I was intrigued by the romantic part of this movie, as the subject matter is kinda similar to The Bodyguard which is one of my guilty pleasures. But if you & Custard are saying there’s zero chemistry between Colin & Keira, then I might as well skip this one.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Yeah, I’d have to say this doesn’t have anything in common with The Bodyguard at all. Other than the fact that I didn’t enjoy The Bodyguard much either. ;-)

      Reply
      1. ruth

        The Bodyguard has a lot of issues, but at least Whitney + Kevin had some believable chemistry… and I also love the soundtrack.

        Reply
        1. Richard Post author

          Okay, I’ll give you that. There was chemistry. But it had that song which was EVERYWHERE for months and drove me insane. ;-)

          Reply
  2. Custard

    OOOH We echo each other here don’t we?

    Thewlis is definitely the best part of the movie. Great lines but as you say way too short on screen!!

    I loved Winstone’s spitting gangster, but as you all know I am little bit in awe of the hardman (I need a father)

    The soundtrack is good, but why if it it is set in modern day does it harp back to the swinging sixties??

    Great review my friend.

    C

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      I wondered the same thing about the soundtrack, but it seems to me that the whole movie was trying to recapture something of that swinging London feel.

      Reply
  3. Custard

    Also the film should win the award for …. Using the C word for no apparent reason!!

    I got bored trying to count how many times they used it. very poor

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      I’d have to watch it again, but I’m pretty sure Ray Winstone’s recent ’44 Inch Chest’ has this beat for the ‘C’ count.

      Reply
  4. Colin

    I absolutely hated this movie. Somehow I gave it 2/10 but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out how it got that much. You said you don’t like Brit gangster films much, but you didn’t mention Mona Lisa. Try it; it’s fab :-)

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hey, Colin. Yeah, I’ve seen Mona Lisa. Been a while, but it was never a favourite of mine. Still, we can both agree that it’s miles ahead of this movie. :-)

      Reply

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