London Boulevard (**)

Colin Farrell stars as Mitchel, an ex-con who takes a job at the estate of reclusive actress Charlotte (Kiera Knightley) as a way to avoid sliding back into gangster life. Unfortunately, this only arouses the interest of local kingpin Ray Winstone (his character has a name too, I suppose), who wants Mitchel to help him rob the estate. Meanwhile, Charlotte is falling in love with Mitchel because he doesn’t mind breaking the faces of tabloid photographers who bother her.

This is the directorial debut of William Monahan, who adapted the Hong Kong franchise Infernal Affairs for his screenplay of The Departed in America. He wrote the screenplay for London Boulevard as well, adapting a novel by Ken Bruen, but in this case he comes off much better as the director, keeping the film moving and finding interesting shots. For all of that and its impressive cast (which includes David Thewlis and Ben Chaplin), it just never quite comes together. I get the feeling that the script wanted to be another In Bruges, and it certainly never approaches the sparkle of that film. I also knew exactly where the film was going to go, including the “surprise” of the ending, which is lifted from several Triad-trying-to-go-straight films in Hong Kong. London Boulevard is ok for what it is, but the unrealized potential is disappointing.

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