Fresh out of prison, Mitchel wants nothing to do with crime but accepts a kip from Billy, a marginal grafter, and accompanies Billy on rent collection trips. He's also old school, wanting revenge on two youths for assaulting a mendicant he's befriended. He's got a strung-out sister to protect, and he's offered a job protecting a famous actress from paparazzi. The plot lines join when Michael finds himself attracted to the actress and Billy's Mob boss, Gant, finds ways to force Michael work for him. He also warns Michael off revenge against the assailants of his friend. What are Michael's options: is there any way to avoid Gant, protect his sister, and find a path to love?Written by
Written by Sergio Pizzorno and Christopher Karloff
Performed by Kasabian
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Limited and the RCA Records Label
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London Boulevard is a big screen adaptation of Ken Bruen's 2001 fictional crime novel of the same name and a directorial debut for William Monahan of Departed (2006) fame, for which he contributed the screen play in Martin Scorcese's seminal Oscar triumph. Monahan manages to assemble a pretty interesting cast for the job matching big name attractions notably Colin Farrell for the lead of Mitchell an ex-con trying to place his life on the straight and narrow who finds complications aplenty but centrally in the shape of Keira Knightley playing Charlotte, a reclusive actress in need of Mitchell's muscle in order to fend off pesky paparazzi, perform some odd jobs around her abode whilst also seeking comfort in his softer side when making use of Mitchell as a confidante.
The strength of the piece is in the supporting cast who mainly transpire as conduits for Mitchells struggle with the temptations of a potential return to his old ways. Leading the second tier is Ray Winstone as crime lord Gant who genuinely creates an atmosphere of dread when on screen as he attempts to lure Farrell back to the dark-side. David Thewlis is equally adept as he plays Jordan a drug induced failed thespian who is Charlotte's business manager. There are also roles for Ben Chaplin as a blundering hood whilst Stephen Graham and Eddie Marsan are shamefully under used in their minor roles.
As you might be thinking there is a lot a going on here and that's sort of where Monahan gets into trouble, the narrative is littered with plot-holes and semi developed ideas and characters such as Anna Friel who pops in and out the story as a Mitchell's troubled sister, this is largely a product of the derivative nature of the project. Monahan seems to be tipping his hat at the types of movie he himself has indulged, for example there is clear a sense of early Guy Ritchie in style of the visuals, soundtrack and occasional attempts at humour. The mood and tone owes more to Scorcese traits such as an angry gratuitous racism and overly proud glorification of the gangster life style. It's a rarity when a film could be said to be too short, but one way London Boulevard could have been improved is an extra 45 minutes or so to pay attention to its many details.
The major task London Boulevard will have is proving it has any substance, it will be interesting to see if William Monahan will be encouraged to take this debut any further and perfect or enhance his directorial style with future work, if so this could be remembered more fondly as part of a bigger picture. If not it will fall through the cracks of irrelevance rather quickly.
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