London Boulevard (Blu-ray) (starring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley)
On the flip side of the multitude of CRAP churned out by Hollywood each and every week, there are some stylish, fun, tightly written and designed stories that just fall through the cracks. It is a shame that movies like these are not picked up by more moviegoers – but these are the kind of movies that you hope will inspire some instant buzz. The type of indie gems that I love because they aren’t usually too dramatic (not my bag) and the type of movies that you love telling people about. I had all but forgotten about movies like this (thanks to the recent garbage I’ve been watching) until I put in LONDON BOULEVARD, a movie that reminds me why I went to film school; why wanted to make movies in the first place!
LONDON BOULEVARD is the freshman outing for Director Monahan (who previously wrote, and won an Oscar for, THE DEPARTED, 2006). This movie is full of style, from the opening credits (big block letters, one at a time, on brightly colored backgrounds) to the closing moments. LONDON BOULEVARD is the story of Mitchel (Colin Farrell, FRIGHT NIGHT, 2011), an ex-con who has just been released from prison in England. The story sounds simple enough, but LONDON BOULEVARD does what so many movies aspire to (but so few attain), it entertains us while telling a compelling story. Farrell was an inspired choice to play Mitchel. He’s understated but there is a terrifying coolness to him, like watching a wolf hiding among sheep. But Mitchel longs desperately to be one of the sheep – he doesn’t want the life that he has fallen into.
The evening of his release, Mitchel helps a young woman avoid getting mugged in a bad part of town. When she turns up at his release party that night, they talk and she offers him a job, if he wants, watching over her friend Charlotte (Keira Knightley, most recently of A DANGEROUS METHOD). We quickly learn that Charlotte is an international celebrity and film star who has suddenly become a shut-in. When Mitchel goes to inquire about the job, he meets her actor friend, Jordan (David Thewlis, in my favorite non-HARRY POTTER movie role). Jordan is Charlotte’s best friend and handles all of her affairs (and he has some of the best lines in the film).
Jordan and Mitchel form an uneasy friendship that quickly grows into a respect adding another layer to this already interesting movie. Mitchel is taking to his new life (even though he never actually accepts the job) but his old life catches up with him quickly when he protects a ‘friend’ named Billy (an unrecognizably slimy Ben Chaplin) and stands up to a group of thugs. Even the London underworld is terrified of Mitchel, so this quickly gets the attention of the local crime boss, a scary individual named Gant (THE DEPARTED’s own Ray Winstone). When Mitchel refuses to accept his offer, Gant kills a man in front of him to seal his fate… but he soon realizes that bringing Mitchel into his world may not be the solution he wanted.
When I first heard about this movie I thought it would probably end up like another great writer’s directorial debut – Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote THE USUAL SUSPECTS and wrote/directed the inferior THE WAY OF THE GUN (2000). Like Monahan, McQuarrie became a hot commodity off of his screenplay and was given the opportunity to direct his next work. Unlike McQuarrie, however, this movie is of the same caliber (though completely different genres) as his Oscar-winning work.
The casting is very nearly perfect and Monahan’s style is clear and pronounced. From the opening reel to the closing credits, LONDON BOULEVARD oozes with cool. I only have one major gripe about the film, and that lies with the ending. I’m sure that some folks will be happy that a movie like this ends the way that it does, while others will join me in my sorrow – but either way a movie that makes you care this much for the outcome is worth the time. I highly recommend this picture!
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) This picture is as crisp as a bag of crisps (that’s a TOP GEAR reference, the British version, but it is apropos). A great presentation of a beautifully designed film.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio matches the picture quality and brings us into the underworld and English countryside.
The Making of London Boulevard (15:33) A fairly standard but well done making-of featurette, this one focuses on the transition of the movie from the Ken Bruen novel and the stylistic choices of the movie.