Saturday, 4 December 2010

REVIEW: London Boulevard

Not every criminal wants to be one. Nice slogan Harvey.

I imagine this film to get very different receptions from American critics and British ones. To the yanks, this is going to seem like a timely revival of a genre that's been gone long enough that we can all feel good and nostalgic about it. In Britain, gangster films such as this never really stopped. They star mostly Danny Dyer and line the bottom shelves next to Wild Things 2 and Speed Racer. But so comes London Boulevard, convinced of its own hipness and originality, but quite frankly star names and the performances that come with are the only real things to separate this from being the umpteenth worthless film too enamoured with The Long Good Friday for its own good.

But I digress, because what really matters here is the accent of Colin Farrell. Not one of his better ones. But that bothered me much less then the general construction of his character, which frankly I think Director/writer William Monahan is more guilty on this front then Farrell. A movie can do nothing worse then try to claim a boring character is fascinating, and London Boulevard does this in spades. What we see is the most 2D thug with a heart archetype you could imagine, yet every character is enamoured with him. Be it Ray Winstone's head honcho gangster, who creates a very needless ruckus just to win Farrell over, or Keira Knightley's paparazzi hounded movie star, whose reclusive and batshit demeanour is broken effortlessly by Farrell standing there and being a lunk. I like Farrell, and think he's given some great performances, but this is not one of them mostly because its such a bland character. Faring much better are the supporting characters, although again no thanks to Monahan. This is a terrible script. David Thewlis steals his second film in as many months as entirely pointless but quite entertaining theatrical pal of Knightley's. Knightley herself gives a good go at it, and I'd be tempted to say that this is her best performance in a contemporary setting, in that she somehow manages to be OK. Winstone comes in midway through, and is just basically Winstone doing what Winstone does. Whether that's a good or bad thing I leave to you. But I grow weary of the same old thing.

But the film fails because its a medicore, but its mediocrity that reeks of arrogance and self-satisfaction. Every precious line of dialogue and forced cockney slang pains the ears, and Oscar Winner William Monahan, who did write The Departed script, which I thought was excellent, washes right the way out this time. What is their left to say, a misfire so complete it almost defines the word. And if I didn't have Thewlis around being awesome it may well have been even worse.

Rating: 5/10

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