Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin, Eddie Marsan, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Graham, Ophelia Lovibond
Written by: William Monahan, based on a novel by Ken Bruen
Directed by: William Monahan
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use
Running Time: 103
Date: 11/26/2010
IMDB

London Boulevard (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Acting Criminal

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Screenwriter William Monahan, who won an Oscar for The Departed, makes his directorial debut here, and it's a far cry from that previous triumph. This crime story smacks of all-too-familiar elements, and told with a blandly straightforward approach. It's certainly possible to put some fire into a tired old story, but Monahan can't seem to get a spark going here.

Upon being released from jail, Mitchel (Colin Farrell) decides to be a criminal anymore, though trouble springs up immediately when his old colleague (Ben Chaplin) hooks him up with a slightly illicit place to live and tries to get him to help collect protection money. Things look up briefly when Mitchell finds a job looking after a reclusive actress, Charlotte (Keira Knightley), and helping keep the paparazzi away. Unfortunately, an attraction grows between Charlotte and Mitchel. And if that's not enough, some punks kill one of Mitchel's friends in cold blood and he becomes obsessed with finding them. However, this trail leads to Gant (Ray Winstone), the most dangerous and bloodthirsty gangster of them all.

Though blessed with a great cast and some supporting characters with intriguing quirks, the movie somehow manages to render them cardboard flat. Their only purpose is to interact with the hero, and when he's not around, they all seem to be sitting around and waiting for him. None of the characters or details springs to life on their own. For example, the main character's friendship with the old hobo is never explained in the script, and it doesn't click on an emotional level either. We're left with nothing much but a going-through-the-motions exercise.

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