DIR/WRI: William Monahan • PRO: Quentin Curtis, Tim Headington, Graham King, William Monahan • DOP: Chris Menges • ED: Dody Dorn, Robb Sullivan • DES: Martin Childs • CAST: Keira Knightley, Jamie Campbell Bower, Colin Farrell, Ray Winstone
Sometimes you look in the fridge and impress yourself with the potential to make a really spectacular dinner. You throw it all in a big pot and eagerly await the result. It simply has to turn out well considering that all of the ingredients are individually a bit great. But then you taste it, and it all goes horribly wrong. Well that’s how London Boulevard left me feeling.
The film’s credentials cannot help but impress. It’s written by Oscar winner William Monahan who has previously thrilled us with Edge of Darkness, Body of Lies and modern masterpiece The Departed. Colin Farrell plays Mitchell, a recently released criminal who has no intentions of going back to prison and wants to lead a straight life despite his associates’ plans to the contrary. The love interest is a Hollywood recluse in the form of Keira Knightley, who hires Mitchell for protection. The local hoodlums are led by Ray Winstone, who eats up any scenery unfortunate enough to cross his path and regurgitates biographical nonsense in a kind of crude and distracting echo of The Dark Knight’s Joker.
The strength of London Boulevard’s players makes the end result baffling. Blame must be heaped on Monahan as he stepped up to direct his script for the first time; although I can’t help but also feel a little sympathy for his misfortunate decision. When you consider that his last three scripts have been successfully adapted by Ridley Scott, Martin Campbell (excellent director of Casino Royale) and Martin Scorsese, it’s no wonder that Monahan thought the process looked easier than it was.
The film is simply riddled with poor decisions. Scenes are left in that are unnecessary, while other background details are omitted. Dialogue is consistently forced and unintentionally amusing. The rock soundtrack is clearly inspired by Scorsese but rarely fits the action on screen. What is most frustrating of all is that the material had the potential to be a solid gangster film. If only Monahan had found London Boulevard instead of this anonymous, forgettable dead end. Next time, ask for directions.
Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
London Boulevard is released on 26th November 2010