A movie that begins with a sequence that could be straight from a Tarantino movie or an unholy lovechild of one and a western cannot be bad, right? That’s what you’d assume at least, and that’s what I assumed. Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything. William Monahan’s London Boulevard, based on a novel of the same name by Ken Bruen and features Colin Farrell playing Mitchell, a man who’s just got out of prison and intends to stay on the straight and narrow and ends up falling for a reclusive movie star Charlotte, played by Keira Knightley. In between lots of stuff happens, a lot of people are introduced and many forgotten as fast, and yet the pace is not staggering.
The main problem is that there are lots of subplots and minor characters that come in and out of the main story. For example, Mitchell’s sister Briony, played by Anna Friel, is introduced early and features in a scene moments later but then she’s forgotten about altogether until over half the movie’s already gone. Same goes with one creepy paparazzi: showing him a lot in the beginning made me feel like he’s an important character, but then he’s forgotten about until the very end when it seems he might have had a story, but he was totally undeveloped in between. Jamie Campbell Bower as a character called White Boy? Where did I see him in the whole movie? Who is White Boy, I have no recollection of a character called that, nor do I remember seeing Campbell Bower’s distinct features? What am I to make of this then? Where did you put all the characters in the meantime Monahan?!
The only good characters in the movie are Farrell’s Mitchell, although even he is a bit stiff but is a convincing bad guy, David Thewlis’ Jordan, Charlotte’s aide and servant who is the only funny character of the movie, incidentally reminding me a lot of Alan Rickman which haunted me for the duration of the movie, and Ray Winstone’s Gaunt, a menacing mob boss, and menacing in the true sense of him giving me a real sense of dread and loathing. But even though they were the good characters of the movie, even they were inconsistent. Why is Mitchell so well known if he’s only a small time crook? Why does Jordan get involved so easily, he doesn’t seem like the type? Why is Gaunt’s homosexuality only briefly touched and hinted upon? It would’ve made the movie a whole lot more interesting if it had been expanded upon more, like his motives for wanting Mitchell to work for him.
The movie definitely had promise, especially as Monahan was involved in the brilliant The Departed, and at first the movie came off as something Tarantino-esque with a hint of Guy Ritchie, but then just deteriorated into a mess of poor choices and inconsistency. The only thing that kept me consistently amused was Farrell’s emotive eyebrows. Seriously, who has eyebrows that expressive and yet can be as bland as gray wallpaper?