London Boulevard Dead-Ends

11/16/2011 4:00 AM |

London Boulevard
Directed by William Monahan

For London Boulevard, his directorial debut, The Departed screenwriter William Monahan has assembled a bevy of accomplished British talent in front of the camera, including Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ben Chaplin, David Thewlis, Ray Winstone and Eddie Marsan. They try their best to make something worthwhile out of the morass they’ve been thrown into, but ultimately a poor script kills their efforts.

It’s always surprising when a film loaded with talent backfires and sputters but unfortunately, that’s what we have here. The problem isn’t that it’s Monahan’s first time behind the camera—it’s his own flat script. As reformed badass Mitchel (Colin Farrell) is sucked back into the life by his old underworld friends, a homeless friend is senselessly murdered by some teens, his trainwreck sister descends into alcoholism and he’s asked to protect starlet Charlotte (Keira Knightley) from paparazzi vultures. He welcomes the new job as it’s easy and Charlotte is beautiful and vulnerable, but ruthless mob boss Gant (Ray Winstone) has other plans for him; and add to the mix Charlotte’s live-in friend, Jordan (David Thewlis), who befriends Mitchel.

That’s a lot of story to follow, but none are especially believable, fun or sympathetic. You’d expect major chemistry between Farrell and Knightly, but the romance provides no spark and Knightley comes off as cloying. Winstone provides some tense fun, but he, like the rest of the movie, is written off far too easily—his climactic scene is notably unsuspenseful. David Thewlis seems to enjoy playing a washed-up actor but a trigger-happy twist negates his character’s credibility. And then there’s the murdered homeless man. We should care that it be avenged, but we have no insight into him or his relationship to Mitchel. All of this adds up to a convoluted and tepid thriller-romance.