Crime in sharp contrast

2011-09-02 10:33

Film: London Boulevard (Nu?Metro)

Director: William Monahan

Featuring: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, Ben Chaplin and David Thewlis

Rating: 7/10

London Boulevard is scriptwriter William Monahan’s directorial debut – he wrote the Oscar-winning The Departed as well as Body of Lies.

As you might expect, his first foray behind the camera has produced an arresting film about an ex-con who wants to go straight, but his past won’t let him.

Colin Farrell is spot on as Mitchel, the criminal who doesn’t want to be one, especially after he takes a job as a private security guard to reclusive movie star Charlotte (Keira Knightley).

Mitchel is a complex character who does immoral things, but has a moral compass, even if to most of us it would seem to be a bit on the wonky side.

Mitchel’s old friends are bad people and they won’t let him go. His old friend Billy, played with snivelling accuracy by Ben Chaplin, wants Mitchel to help him with his loan-shark collections.

But a chance encounter gets Mitchel a job with Charlotte and he sees a life beyond crime.

Mitchel’s escape from London’s criminal element is made even more impossible when his efficiency in getting out of sticky situations puts him on the radar of a very dangerous man indeed – Gant (Ray Winstone), a villain who won’t take no for an answer.

What ensues is a vicious cat-and-mouse game between the two.

London Boulevard is a highly stylised film that traverses two shadowy worlds – that of the criminal network and that of the famous. Monahan’s script, based on Ken Bruen’s novel, highlights the crossover between the two.

Knightley, whom I find incredibly irritating, plays the part of the overly anxious star well, her falling in love with Mitchel is believable.

Though the two come from different worlds, they are both hiding from something and find solace in each other.

While the burgeoning love story might be the catalyst for Mitchel’s bloody exit strategy, it is this strategy that makes London Boulevard a humdinger of a crime drama.

The film also boasts an array of finely acted bit parts from the likes of Anna Friel as Mitchel’s crazy sister, David Thewlis as Charlotte’s trusty permanently stoned aide, and Eddie Marsden as an odious cop on the take.

Fans of British crime dramas in the tradition of Layer Cake and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels will enjoy this sharply dressed addition to the genre.

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