On the surface I’m thinking ‘London Boulevard’ should be a fairly straight forward, can’t miss crime proposition. First of all it’s a British Gangster Movie. It’s what they do over there. We have Ray Winstone on board playing the Big Boss, which he does in this movie awfully well. It stars Colin Farrell who lays down his unique brand of bravado and Kiera Knightley is our damsel in distress who does… well… next to nothing in this movie. The cast is rounded out by a virtual who’s who of British talent and directed by Academy Award winning screenwriter William Monaghan who won this Oscar for ‘The Departed’. This is neither here nor there, but how one can win an award for writing something that’s been written already is confusing to me, but this is one of the reasons why I don’t recognize arbitrarily distributed awards by corrupt committees. Regardless, there are a lot of solid elements in place with ‘London Boulevard’, but the sum of the whole ends up being way less than what these solid elements all tallied up should indicate.
Mitchel (Farrell) has just gotten out of the joint. Mitchel has no intentions of going back in the joint. This is going to be difficult because all of Mitchel’s associates are criminals. He’s picked up by his criminal friend Billy (Ben Chaplin) who sets him up in a very nice criminally acquired flat, he attends a ‘welcome back’ party that is stocked with criminals and at this party he has to seek out his drunken sister Briony (Anna Friel) who is as criminal minded as anybody we will meet in this movie.
Circumstance leads Mitchel to have a meeting with Charlotte (Knightley) the paparazzi hounded movie star who has become a bit of an agoraphobe. She needs somebody to assist her live-in… hell… I don’t what you would call Jordan (David Thewlis) in this movie but he lives in Charlotte’s house, gets high and kind of looks after her. Regardless, it is very important that somebody be there to look after and help care for the fragile Charlotte and not steal stuff. The interview went something like. "Are you a thief?" Mitchel responds with ‘I’ve never stolen anything’. And he’s hired.
Then there’s the issue of Gant the Big Boss (Winstone). Here’s where I, personally, started to lose my grip on what is actually happening in this movie. I know Gant wants Mitchell to come back and work for him and I know Mitchel refuses to do this. I see them get into a big yelling match and I see them have a lunch date that didn’t go so well. From that point it becomes a sprint to see who can kill as many people as possible while they each try to get to each other to kill each other. You see I’m not quite sure how it came to that. Part of the problem could’ve been that I could comprehend only about half of what anybody was saying in this movie. I liked it when they were cussing in this movie, which they did an awful lot, because those words I understood. Other idle conversations… I was accented out of the mix. True enough these actors don’t speak this way in normal circumstances, hell… I didn’t even know Colin Farrell was Irish until after the third or fourth movie I saw him in considering he was usually playing somebody from Chicago, but for this movie these proper speaking actors interpreted underground London Criminalese as borderline unintelligible.
Anyway, there’s a race to see who can kill who first with Mitchel’s main goal being able to unite with his new true love, the agoraphobic movie star. Something like that.
As ‘London Boulevard’ opens up with its stylish titling and it’s hip music and Colin Farrell doing what he does… with the promise of Ray Winstone showing up soon… as I said earlier it’s looking like a can’t miss British Crime Movie. Don’t get me wrong because there were some cool things in this movie. All of the supporting performances were really good, I like the relationship Monaghan crafted between the character of Mitchel and his sister Briony in that he loves her to death, but he also understands her completely. And occasionally, when I could understand it, there was some slick dialog coming of these characters mouths. But alas some nice music, some cool actors, and the occasion dialog nugget doesn’t make for a good movie all by itself.
The main problem is probably the severely undercooked romance between The Thug and The Movie Star to the point where it probably should’ve been left out, that is if this weren’t based on a novel. That whole part of the movie was near worthless since we didn’t spend nearly enough time getting to know the movie star, and the thug and the movie star didn’t spend enough time together to justify a romance. Yeah, they started sleeping together eventually, but sex ain’t romance. In fact we spent way more time getting to know the pot smoking house guest than the movie star which naturally made his character more endearing.
The crime element was the better part of the movie, by far, but when the criminal thing was just getting going, we had to switch back to spend a few more worthless minutes on the tepid romance, and then they had to start all over again. Or Monaghan would just bulldoze through the crime parts and hope you can make heads or tails out of what is going on. I couldn’t. And that hip music? Cool at first… loud and obtrusive as the movie wore on.
I love me a good British Crime Movie, this just wasn’t a good British Crime Movie. Somewhere along the way ‘London Boulevard’ lost its way and turned potential into a jumbled mess.