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
"That's why nobody wants me to be a gangster. Because I could not stop if I started."
I mainly wanted to see London Boulevard because of the pairing of Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell, and that part of the movie certainly didn't disappoint me. This is definitely Farrel's film, and he carries it well. Knightley is much more a side character, despite her prominent place in the posters and advertisements. And while she's good in her part, Farrell is what makes this interesting. The guy is absolutely ferocious in this movie, and any fans of his will be pleased.
The story of a man, fresh off of time in the prison, struggling not to be drawn into the violent criminal world that everyone around him seems to think he belongs in, is an average one. It feels a bit haphazard at times, which seems due to the way the plot continued to change as the film was being made. It progresses in leaps and fits and starts, without ever really establishing a steady flow. The scenes with Knightley and Farrell together seem from a completely different flick than the scenes with Farrell in his violent criminal element, due to the drastic differences in tone between the two. That's not a flaw in itself, but it highlights how piecemeal the whole film can feel at times.
What makes London Boulevard a memorable movie despite its issues is the characters. Beyond Farrell and Knightley's hounded actress, Anna Friel, David Thewlis, and Ray Winstone each help carry the story along with interesting roles that they play just perfectly.
I recommend London Boulevard if you're a fan of anyone involved, but don't expect a traditional English gangster flick. Or a perfect one.
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