Starring Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone
It's easy to see why writer/director William Monahan is in such high demand to pen scripts, especially with what he accomplished behind the camera on London Boulevard. This film marked a successful directorial debut for Monahan, who was previously know more as the talented screenwriter behind The Departed. If he continues to make films this good, we'll see his name attached to everything in the future.
Any doubts about Colin Farrell being a worthy leading man should be put to rest with his performance in London Boulevard. In this crime drama, Farrell plays Mitchel, a man released from prison after a 3-year stint who's looking to leave his criminal life in the past only to be pulled right back in by his old mate (friend) Billy (Ben Chaplin). Mitchel reluctantly helps Billy make collections from people on the behalf of feared, local mob boss, Gant (Ray Winstone) in order for a place to stay. Based on his past reputation as a gangster, Gant wants Mitchel to join his firm (gang). Meanwhile, he also has the local fuzz (police) expecting bribe payments from him as well, and is constantly trying to keep his crazy sister (Anna Friel) from getting into too much trouble.
Mitchel also finds himself going back to the life, in terms of wanting to exact his revenge on a couple of street thugs, who brutally murder a bum friend of his. However, this is something he struggles with throughout the movie, as he aims to stay on the right path.
The best chance Mitchel has at turning his life around comes when he's offered a job to provide security for a super famous, yet incredibly reclusive British actresss named Charlotte (Keira Knightley) who suffers from relentless and verbally abusive paparazzi snapping pictures outside of her flat (apartment) at all times. As the paranoid actress spends more time away from the outside world, she and Mitchel fall in love with each other. Unfortunately, their relationship causes more friction between Mitchel and Gant, as Gant simply won't take "no" for an answer, in terms his endless pursuit of trying to lure Mitchel into joining his crew.
Gant goes as far as to shoot a man he suspects is responsible for Mitchel going to prison in front of him, even though Mitchel identifies the man as the wrong person. Finally, Gant comes to his wit's end with trying to convince the reluctant young man to stand by his side as the two most powerful men in the city, and begins to threaten the lives of everyone close to Mitchel, his crazy sister, Charlotte and to a lesser extent Billy.
Farrell is cool customer throughout the film, and only flys off the handle a couple times prior to his big faceoff with Gant. In fact, Farrell's best lines in the film come when he's sitting down for a meal with Gant, who starts making the threats.
"What you have to understand is if I was a gangster, you'd be the first to fucking die. I wouldn't work for you, I'd kill you and take everything you've got, if I were a gangster. That's why you don't want me to be a gangster," Farrell said.
The pulse of London Boulevard was guided by one of the best film sound tracks I've heard (the best since Drive any way), featuring mostly classic rock from English bands The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds. The supporting cast of quirky characters in David Thewlis (Harry Potter), Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes) and Anna Friel were phenomenal as well.
As much as I enjoyed this film, it would easily be just as good if not better to see on DVD. I felt like I would've benefited from having subtitles available several times during the movie, as some of the dialogue was lost due to my lack of translating British slang. I also thought the trailers for London Boulevard represented it as more of a dark comedy/Guy Ritchie style crime flick, which it really was far too dramatic to be.
These little hang-ups were the only thing keeping me from giving this damn good movie three and a half Abiding Dudes.
Check out the trailer to see what I mean.
Funny how London Boulevard is now finally being released in the U.S. after being in theaters almost a year overseas. Wait to see this one on DVD or Blu-Ray, but do definitely see it.