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London Boulevard
Genre Crime
 
Review:

London Boulevard is the sort of movie you'd expect from a director like Guy Ritchie. It feels like it was written with Ritchie in mind - given the setting, characters and dialogue. Problem is... the element of romance and the overall lack of action. Guy Ritchie is more about intense, slick and violent British gangster movies, although the way Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. has been going... he seems to be embracing a different sort of romance, playing up the relationship between Holmes and his dear friend and companion, Watson.

Instead of waiting for Ritchie to bite, William Monahan has taken the reins on this adaptation of the Ken Bruen novel in his directorial debut. The Hollywood writer has an impressive big budget filmography including: Body of Lies, Edge of Darkness, Kingdom of Heaven and Martin Scorsese's The Departed, for which he won an Oscar. However, Monahan's screenplays have gone one of two ways - either hitting the spot or crumbling under the weight of too many subplots.

Unfortunately, London Boulevard falls into the second category... trying to cover too many bases in this crime, drama, romance thriller about an ex-con trying to start over. Colin Farrell is a quality actor and is well cast as the lead in this '70s style drama. He's the quintessential bad boy, giving his ex-con character gristle and an unpredictable nature... making him ready to snap at any minute. Although, it's the sort of role that's becoming a bit typecast for Farrell and there's not enough to separate the performance from many of his previous films.

Keira Knightley, his leading lady suffers from the same dilution as both actors take a page from their own lives with a bland stereotypical take on their characters that while adept, loses its vitality next to previous roles in better movies. The fuzzy performances affect the chemistry between the co-leads, who are a handsome couple, but don't really seem to click on-screen.

The same can be said for Ray Winstone... who may as well have been an understudy to Tom Wilkinson in Guy Ritchie's Rock-n-Rolla. A favourite tough guy villain, it's just another day at the office and as much of a specialist as he is, his role as Gant ranks alongside his average performance in Edge of Darkness. The best performances come from some of the minor supporting characters, who are almost unrecognisable with Ben Chaplin as Billy - a dim-witted henchman and David Thewlis as Jordan - a Withnail and I inspired "caretaker" who looks like a gay Alan Rickman.

William Monahan can write well, but the script seems to wallow in its gangster cliches. The pacing and intermittent outburst of violence keeps us waiting-and-watching, but it's a bit of a slog as we never seem to break into the characters or find a reason to care. Farrell may be a likable rogue, but the film just seems to hop from subplot to subplot - touching on London's gritty crime network, jumping to sleazy paparazzi and tabloid shenanigans and then attempting to find some redemption at the heart of it all.

London Boulevard checks all the boxes from casting, costumes, cinematography and style, but it never seems to go beyond the veil of inner city crime and corruption. Adding an element of Notting Hill romance to spice things up, just seems a bit unnecessary in Guy Ritchie terrain and going for an artistic ending makes the events add up to nought - making you feel a bit cheated. It's entertaining enough to wash over you and fans of the actors will simply get more-of-the-same, but without a real connection... you'd feel more satisfied rewatching Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The bottom line: Toothless.

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