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Fresh out of prison, Mitchell lands a legitimate job as a handyman for a rich actress who's eager to reward him with cash, cars and sex. But Mitchell can never truly escape his violent past or the dangerous world of loan sharks, druggies and other bottomfeeders.
For more about London Boulevard and the London Boulevard Blu-ray release, see London Boulevard Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 6, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Graham
Director: William Monahan
» See full cast & crew
London Boulevard Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 6, 2011
William Monahan "London Boulevard" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Entertainment in Video (EIV). The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer and a collection of video interviews with various cast and crew members. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature Region-B "locked".
The main protagonist in London Boulevard is a former gangster named Mitchell (Colin Farrell, Alexander Revisited, The New World) who has just been released from prison. Determined to rebuild his life but broke, he accepts a job as bodyguard to a famous actress, Charlotte (Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice, Atonement), who has barricaded herself with a good friend (David Thewlis, Veronika Decides to Die, Mr. Nice) in a posh Holland Park mansion besieged by hordes of paparazzi. The two begin spending time together and eventually fall in love.
But instead of leaving London as his wealthy lover suggests, Mitchell begins seeing Billy (Ben Chaplin, The Thin Red Line, Birthday Girl), an old pal and very shady character, who asks if he can help him with his rent collections. Mitchell agrees, for a small fee, and shortly after that gets his head busted.
Meanwhile, Billy's employer, Gant (Ray Winstone, The Proposition, Edge of Darkness), a powerful crime boss who controls a large area of the city, invites Mitchell to rejoin his firm. When he politely rejects the offer, Gant decides to destroy him. Naturally, a lot of people get hurt, a few even die.
Based on Ken Bruen's novel and directed by American helmer William Monahan -- who wrote the scripts for Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven and Body of Lies, as well as Martin Scorsese's The Departed -- London Boulevard is a stylish British gangster film that reminds about Mike Hodges' Get Carter. It is violent and intense, dark and quite serious. Unlike Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and Matthew Vaughn's Layer Cake, the film is also easy to follow because most of its characters do not mumble.
The key relationships are interesting but the film does not depend on them. The ideas behind them are far more intriguing because they justify the violence and chaos that ensue after Mitchell rejects Gant's offer. For example, both Mitchell and Charlotte are victims of their fame -- he is a gangster who cannot escape his past, while she is a superstar trapped in her own house -- and neither knows how to get rid of it.
The romantic relationship between Mitchell and Charlotte is also only a pretext to show that even though their lives have been very different they, as individuals, are not. Both have similar needs and dream about similar things, both want to love and be loved.
The secondary characters also have interesting ambitions and desires that dispel various myths about gangsters, cops, and victims. This is not to say that London Boulevard carries a strong social message, but clearly there are curious observations in it that are missing in other similarly themed films.
The cast is top-notch. Farrell is very impressive as the reformed gangster trying to enjoy the simple things in life. Rather surprisingly, Knightley has a limited time in front of the camera but is nevertheless convincing as the jaded and insecure actress. Winstone is again a terrific gangster who loves hurting people. Thewlis is absolutely hilarious. Chaplin is the only one who looks stiff and contrived.
The film boasts an outstanding music score courtesy of Sergio Pizzorno (Doomsday, 21).
London Boulevard Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-2 and granted a 1080p transfer, William Monahan's London Boulevard arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Entertainment in Video (EIV).
The high-definition transfer is practically flawless. From the gloomy London streets to the few scenes from the British countryside, fine object detail is always impressive. Contrast levels and clarity are also consistent, with only a whiff of mosquito noise present during a couple of scenes from the first half of the film. Edge-enhancement is never an issue of concern. Aliasing and artifacting do not plague the high-definition transfer either. I also did not see any traces of heavy noise reduction. Furthermore, color reproduction is excellent -- blue, green, and soft gray are the prominent colors, always looking fresh and healthy. There are no stability issues to report in this review either. All in all, this is one fine, quite impressive release, which I have every reason to believe replicates beautifully the film's theatrical look. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
London Boulevard Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0. For the record, EIV have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
London Boulevard boasts a top-notch retro/pop soundtrack that gives the film quite the edge (the Yardbirds track is perfect for this film). Fortunately, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does not disappoint - the bass is potent and punchy and the rear channels very intelligently used; there are absolutely no distortions in the high-frequencies either. There are no memorable shootouts but a couple of scenes still stick out. The dialog is crisp, clear, and stable, but American viewers will likely want to use the optional English SDH subtitles as some of the main characters have rather thick accents (though definitely not as bad as those heard in Guy Ritchie's films). For the record, there are not pops, cracks, or audio dropouts to report in this review.
London Boulevard Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
London Boulevard Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
London Boulevard is an enjoyable independent film that works because it does not copy the familiar cockney gangster formula. The film also has a soundtrack to die for. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of British distributors EIV, looks and sounds terrific. If you reside in a Region-A territory and wish to add London Boulevard to your library, please keep in mind that the disc is Region-B "locked". RECOMMENDED.
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