Directed by William Monahan
On general release (not FACT) from 26th November 2010
Written by Ken Bruen (novel), William Monahan (screenplay)
Having been involved with the critically acclaimed Oscar winning film
The Departed, writer turned director
William Monahan has gone with trying to recreate a film of that grittiness
and taking it to England with London Boulevard,
the final result being a decent but modest crime thriller. Essentially
it is just another film involving crime in London, but this time featuring
a strong cast including Colin Farrell, Ray Winstone and the consistent
Keira Knightley alongside a foul mouthed script and a brutal narrative.
Recently released convict Mitchell (Colin Farrell) is brought back to
his familiar territory in the violent streets of London and straight away
is back in business with partner Billy (Ben Chaplin). Mitchell wants to
steer away from crime and instead be more helpful towards others, which
is made clear when he chases a couple of thugs away from a young woman.
She ends up meeting him at a party and recommends that he should work
for her friend, reclusive film actress Charlotte (Keira Knightley) who
has kept herself away from the paparazzi by staying indoors all the time.
Mitchell gets the job of protecting her and is supported by another helper
Jordan (David Thewlis).
Away from Charlotte, Mitchell tries to find out who was responsible for
the death of his dosser friend, and gets Billy to ask round. But when
the leading figure in the London underworld, Mr Gant (Ray Winstone) comes
looking to place Mitchell high up in his crime organization, he must find
a way to refuse the advances of such a dangerous man, while also protecting
those closest to him and growing closer to Charlotte as she seeks a way
When this film went into production, it seemed like it would be a British
version of Sunset Blvd, but clearly
I was proved wrong by the way it was made more like The
Long Good Friday. It does prove to be a promising first effort
for Monahan, and while the film contains flaws, it is also a smartly written
and engaging gangster drama. The writing is clever on occasions, including
the dialogue between Mitchell and Gant, though also shocking on occasions,
e.g. Jordan's comparison of Charlotte with Monica Bellucci. Monahan also
manages to get the cast to all deliver in their own manner though they
are either effective or wasted.
For the first couple of scenes, Colin Farrell's middle class cockney
accent comes across as forced, but once he settles into the role, his
performance takes limelight as a cynical criminal with some heart. His
brash use of violence, and utter respect and protection of friends and
family, provides a conflict within Mitchell that he constantly battles
throughout the film.
Knightley makes her big screen comeback as Charlotte and does a good
job despite being in few big scenes. Her story with regards to the paparazzi
considering her real life experience, and that seems to make her involvement
in the film more of a biopic reflection.
Ray Winstone never puts a foot wrong, but his role becomes predictable
and uninteresting, especially since every other word out of his cockney
mouth is mostly volatile. Monahan really missed a trick, by failing to
provide Winstone's character with any further depth. David Thewlis and
Ben Chaplin give great performances as the hippy, wannabe actor and scared,
low-level gangster respectively, though Chaplin's character got annoying
towards the film's climax while the lovely Anne Friel's role as the thieving
and childish sister of Mitchell is clinical but not the most sympathetic
The film feels rushed. The story of Mitchell's old friend Joe and Mitchell's
subsequent attempts to find out who is responsible is an adequate sub-plot,
but neither Monahan's direction nor his screenplay seem to follow it to
any decisive conclusion. It seems that sub-plot is simply included to
allow the irony of the ending and provide a twist which the film itself
certainly does not need. Monahan also seems to be tipping his hat towards
Guy Ritchie in style of the visuals, soundtrack and occasional attempts
It's a rarity when a film could be said to be too short, but one way
London Boulevard could have been improved is an extra forty-five minutes
or so to pay attention to its many details. The minor characters - including
Eddie Marsan, Stephen Graham and The Kumars
Sanjeev Bhaskar - aren't given nearly enough time to do anything.
While London Boulevard doesn't live
up to the hype of The Departed, it
does deliver in its own ways and seems to be harshly reviewed by some
critics, though it should get more support from audiences who love their
crime films. The Brits mostly do those best!