London Boulevard tells the fairly straightforward tale of an ex-con, Mitchel (Colin Farrell) who after just being released from prison vows to walk the straight and narrow, but we all know that things never go according to plan. It's just as the Godfather lamented "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." and that pretty much sums up Colin Farrell's arc in London Boulevard. It's quickly apparent that Mitchel is, or was, a gangster of some notoriety, someone you don't want to mess with, and at his welcome home party Mitchel finds other criminals of the underworld and former associates who are quick to try pull him back into that lifestyle.
Realizing that if he's to stand a chance in hell of going straight, he needs to remove himself from these people and this lifestyle entirely. By chance, one of the girls at his party offers Mitchel a job after she sees him frighten away some young thugs with aplomb outside his own party and the job is to protect a reclusive actress Charlotte (Keira Knightley), which Mitchel sees as a chance to get away from his former lifestyle. However the new gangster in town Gant (Ray Winstone) refuses to let Mitchel out so easily, and their scenes together are easily among the best parts of the movie. Charlotte is accompanied by the enigmatic and quirky Jordan (David Thewlis) as he shows Mitchel the ropes, so to speak, and despite all evidence to the contrary, he proves to be quite a useful jack of all trades.
I was surprised at how little time Mitchel and Charlotte actually spent together and how quickly their relationship developed, but I suppose a recluse doesn't exactly have many options either, despite being a desirable actress. The plot synopsis would have you believe that the romance is the main plot of London Boulevard, it isn't, and while there are a couple of nice and tender moments between the two of them, those looking for a romance movie will surely be disappointed.
London Boulevard has such an abundance of subplots that either, don't go anywhere or were completely pointless in the first place, and it scatters the narrative all over the place. It's hard to place London Boulevard because it doesn't really fit neatly into any one genre, not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but it didn't really feel like a good thing in this particular case. Dropping a couple of the needless subplots and fleshing out the romance and gangster conflict could have helped this movie out exponentially, given it a more focused narrative.
Colin Farrell and Ray Winstone were in superb form here, both gave strong and commanding performances. I wanted to see a lot more interaction between those two men than we did. I imagine Keira Knightly probably relished this role too, given her tumultuous experiences with the paparazzi in her past. Colin probably enjoyed the day on-set when he got to sort out a few paparazzi as well. Both actors have had their fair share of run-ins with the paparazzi so these roles and scenes were probably cathartic to them in a way.
Keira did a splendid job portraying a reclusive and shaken celebrity. Keira can really project a lot of different and subtle emotions when she wants to, and she shared good chemistry with Colin Farrell, I wanted to see more time spent between them as well. David Thewlis was another terrific character who was bizarre and oddly captivating, I would have liked to have seen more of him too. So no complaints in the acting department from me, there were strong performances all around. Strong performances that elevated London Boulevard far above what it probably would have been without them.
Despite London Boulevard's shortcomings, namely too short a running time and too many unnecessary subplots, I still enjoyed it because it had a certain charm to it. I had a good time watching it and I felt invested in the outcome. London Boulevard certainly had all the requirements to be a great movie, unfortunately it never quite realized them. Overall London Boulevard had too much going on to really draw me in all the way and the ending was pretty disappointing to me. Colin Farrell was amazing though, someone needs to get him in some better movies, pronto, because he's a brilliant actor.
Written by - The Sentry - 06/06/2015