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William Monahan
Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin
Writing Credits:
William Monahan, Ken Bruen (novel)

Not every criminal wants to be one.

The directorial debut of William Monahan, the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of The Departed, London Boulevard follows an ex-con trying to make a fresh start in a relationship with a reclusive actress. A sexy, stylish gangster thriller bristling with wit and brutal intrigue, London Boulevard stars Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley as star-crossed lovers who run afoul of one of London’s most vicious crime bosses.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3.431 thousand on 1 screen.
Domestic Gross
$6.911 thousand.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 2/21/2012

• “The Making of London Boulevard” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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London Boulevard [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 15, 2012)

An Oscar-winner for his Departed screenplay, William Monahan makes his directorial debut via 2011’s London Boulevard. Harry Mitchel (Colin Farrell) gets out of prison and wants to go straight. However, this seems easier said than done, as his old cohorts attempt to pull him back into the criminal life.

Mitchel takes a job as bodyguard for Charlotte (Keira Knightley), an actress who remains the target of paparazzi even though she retired. She worries they’ll become too intrusive, so she hires Mitchel to protect her from them.

Even with this new job, Mitchel still finds himself embroiled in his old life, as he works with old pal Billy (Ben Chaplin) and eventually gets recruited by crime kingpin Gant (Ray Winstone). In addition, Mitchel needs to care for his train-wreck sister Briony (Anna Freel) and others – oh, and he and Charlotte start to fall for each other, too.

Though Monahan achieved his greatest success alongside Martin Scorsese, London Boulevard feels more connected to a different filmmaker: Guy Ritchie. While Boulevard doesn’t seem quite as over the top as a standard Ritchie effort, it still feels like something that director could make – which is why it seems a bit odd that the firmly American Monahan created a flick with such a distinctly British emphasis.

Since I’m no more English than Monahan, I can’t comment on its inherent veracity. I can say that it’s reasonably entertaining, though it tends to suffer from Tries Too Hard Syndrome. This comes out in a couple of ways, especially via the movie’s use of music. In apparent homage to Scorsese – and maybe Ritchie – Monahan finds it difficult to let many moments pass without the presence of pop/rock songs of various era. Granted, this tendency decreases as the movie progresses, but it’s still a bit much and feels like cheap shorthand.

The tale itself both attempts to bite off too much and shoots for too little. Monahan seems to want to make an epic here, but instead, the end result comes across as scattered and rambling. The flick packs in a bunch of threads and characters but fails to develop them particularly well. Even Mitchel himself feels half-drawn, and his arc doesn’t tend to really go much of anywhere.

On the positive side, Boulevard boasts an excellent cast, and they deliver good work. Farrell fares best of all, as he gives his borderline one-note/cliché character a lot of heart and depth. We’ve seen many “bad guys who try to go good” roles over the years, but Farrell nearly makes the part seem fresh.

David Thewlis also delights in his supporting role as Charlotte’s assistant Jordan. He plays the part in a mincing manner that obscures the role’s true brutality. Thewlis adds much-needed comedy to the film but still musters the necessary power.

At no point does Boulevard threaten to bore the audience, but it still doesn’t live up to its goals. Even with a great cast, it suffers from a story that lacks clarity and too much style over substance. While it remains moderately enjoyable, it can’t match up to expectations.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

London Boulevard appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image always looked solid.

Sharpness looked good, as virtually no softness crept into the image. Instead, the movie always appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a yellow “sodium vapor” or a chilly blue most of the time; some more natural material appears, though even those shots leaned toward the desaturated side of the street. The tones consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots came across as appropriately dense but not overly dark. Overall, the picture appeared positive.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Boulevard, though it didn’t have as much to do as you might expect from a flick with criminal elements. More character-based than action-oriented, the soundscape occasionally popped to life, but it usually concentrated on music and dialogue. The environmental material helped broaden the movie’s horizons but don’t expect a lot of active, involving material; the mix usually remained fairly subdued.

Audio quality was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess; accents rendered lines tough to understand at times, but those issues didn’t stem from the accuracy of the source. Music seemed warm and full, while effects showed good clarity and definition. This was a positive but unexceptional track.

Only one extra shows up here: a 15-minute, 33-second featurette called The Making of London Boulevard. It provides notes from writer/director William Monahan, producers Graham King and Quentin Curtis, and actors Ray Winstone, Colin Farrell, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ben Chaplin, Anna Friel, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, and Stephen Graham. The show looks at Monahan’s decision to adapt Boulevard as his directorial debut, script/story/character issues, cast and performances, visual design and cinematography, locations and influences, and general thoughts.

While not a thorough featurette, this one seems deeper than most. Despite a spot of happy talk, it gets into the subjects in a meatier manner than expected and moves along pretty well. It’s too bad we don’t get a commentary from Monahan, but this ends up as a decent overview.

The disc opens with ads for The Rum Diary, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Drive, The Woman in Black and Tonight You’re Mine. These also pop up under Previews but no trailer for Boulevard appears.

If you expect anything more than a pretty standard gangster flick from London Boulevard, you’ll come away with disappointment. This doesn’t make it a bad flick – indeed, it offers decent entertainment, mostly due to a strong cast – but the film comes with a “been there, done that” factor. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals and good audio but skimps on supplements. Despite the best efforts of a solid set of actors, this is a spotty movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 17
7 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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