London Boulevard

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London Boulevard
London Boulevard Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Monahan
Produced byGraham King
William Monahan
Quentin Curtis
Timothy Headington
Redmond Morris
Colin Vaines
Screenplay byWilliam Monahan
Based onLondon Boulevard
by Ken Bruen
StarringColin Farrell
Keira Knightley
David Thewlis
Anna Friel
Ben Chaplin
Ray Winstone
Music bySergio Pizzorno
CinematographyChris Menges
Edited byDody Dorn
Robb Sullivan
GK Films
Distributed byEntertainment Film Distributors (UK)
IFC Films (US)
Release date
26 November 2010
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£8 million
(US$ 12,3 million)
Box office$4.6 million[1]

London Boulevard is a 2010 British independent crime film released in the United Kingdom on 26 November 2010. It is based on Ken Bruen's novel of 2001 of the same name,[2] with screenplay and direction by William Monahan,[3] marking his directorial debut.[4] The cast features Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone.[4][5]


The film opens with Harry Mitchel (Colin Farrell) (convicted of grievous bodily harm under never-explained circumstances) leaving prison. He is propositioned by his friend and former partner-in-crime, Billy Norton (Ben Chaplin), to live in a nice "acquired" apartment, but on condition he work for Billy's criminal boss. On his way to a "welcome back" party, Mitchel saves a woman, Penny (Ophelia Lovibond), from being mugged.

At the party, Billy propositions Mitchel again. Mitchel is told by Billy and their contact, Danny (Stephen Graham), that his sister, Briony (Anna Friel), is in the basement, and he "saves" her from being raped by a drug addict. Mitchel meets Penny for a drink elsewhere, and she offers him a job to help her friend, a reclusive famous "retired" young actress, Charlotte.

Mitchel goes to a train station to visit his friend Joe, a blind homeless Big Issue salesman and gives him a knife to protect himself. The next day, Mitchel meets Charlotte (Keira Knightley) and her friend, Jordan (David Thewlis). Charlotte is constantly hounded by the paparazzi perpetually stationed outside her home, taunting and photographing anyone who enters or leaves.

Mitchel is offered the job to "assist" and Jordan gives him a tour of the mansion, including a collection of paintings that look like Francis Bacon's studies on Velazquez screaming Popes and a garage full of Charlotte's ex-husband Tim's cars. At his apartment, corrupt police Detective Bailey (Eddie Marsan) visits Mitchel and tells him to avoid Billy and forces a small bribe from Mitchel.

Mitchel talks to Billy about Detective Bailey, whom Billy cannot stand. Joe is mugged, then brutally beaten by two 16 year old footballers from the estate and left for dead; and one of the boys takes Joe's knife. At the hospital, Dr Sanji Raju (Sanjeev Bhaskar) lets Mitchel visit Joe, who wants Mitchel to avenge his death.

The next day, Billy tells Mitchel that he knows about the car collection and that his boss wants to steal them. At Joe's funeral, Dr Raju tells Mitchel that he wants to date Briony, which Mitchel accepts. Mitchel goes to the pub and asks Danny to find out as much as he can about the two footballers. That night, Mitchel is kidnapped by Billy and taken to his boss, Rob Gant (Ray Winstone), who insists that Mitchel collect money for him.

Charlotte and Mitchel escape from the paparazzi to her mansion in the countryside. Charlotte mentions to Mitchel that something happened to her in Italy, which is implied to be a drug overdose. Jordan reveals to Mitchel that in this incident she was raped by a drug addict, who never got caught but is currently on life support after overdosing on quaaludes, administered by Jordan.

Gant threatens Detective Bailey to stop him making Mitchel pay bribes. Later that evening, Mitchel and Billy meet Gant in a garage, where Gant shoots a black man, whom Gant was led to believe by Billy to be one of the Nation of Islam members who beat up Mitchel and scared off Billy while earlier collecting for Gant. Gant yells at Billy, but Mitchel protects Billy and yells at Gant, who claims Mitchel said to kill anyone. Gant tells Mitchel he is now an 'accessory' to the killing, and to meet him at Criterion Restaurant the next night, for an unknown arrangement.

Charlotte tells Mitchel she loves him. Later, Mitchel and Gant meet and Gant assigns Mitchel to collect money in Streatham, Clapham and Kennington. Gant reveals that the main mugger footballer has a future and is being scouted by professional teams, and implies that Mitchel had best leave him alone.

Mitchel tells Gant that if he were a gangster, Gant would be the first person he would kill and would take everything Gant has, but claims he is not a gangster and walks away. Gant, to put Mitchel in trouble, waylays the doctor who owns Mitchel's apartment and after Gant rapes him, he orders his henchmen, Fletcher (Matt King) and Beaumont (Nick Bartlett) to kill him. Mitchel learns who the footballer is and follows him into a tunnel, planning to shoot him, but has a change of heart at the last moment, and lets the young man walk away unaware.

Mitchel visits Charlotte and tells her that he loves her; the two sleep together. Mitchel sees Billy's van and attacks Billy, who says that Gant sent him to kill Mitchel; he warns Mitchel to look for "a big Bosnian fucker". Mitchel borrows one of Charlotte's husband's Rolls Royces and confronts Billy at a pub. He beats Billy, who says Gant will kill everyone whom Mitchel loves, and Mitchel steals the money Billy collected for Gant.

Mitchel meets his sister at a restaurant in order to persuade her to get out of the country so that she is out of Gant's reach. He gives her a train ticket and money, but she belittles his worry and ignores the warning. Mitchel and Jordan find Billy's dead body in the front garden of Charlotte's home, and the Bosnian, named Storbor, standing outside the gate.

Mitchel asks Jordan to help him kill Storbor and the two follow Storbor to a nightclub where they meet him and the drug addict from the party named Whiteboy (Jamie Campbell Bower). Mitchel kills Gant and it looks to be a happy ending. But when Mitchel walks out to the street on his way to go to America, the young kid he let live stabs him several times in the side and he dies. Not a satisfying ending.



The film is set in London, which is where the majority of the scenes were filmed, with some scenes shot at Ealing Studios. It was also filmed in Hammerwood Park, East Sussex. Filming began on 8 June.[8][9] The giant billboard advertising posters of Charlotte's face that appear in the film were shot by fashion photographer David Bailey.[10]


A trailer was released on 1 November 2010.[11] The film opened in the United Kingdom on 26 November 2010. When the film was released in the United Kingdom, it opened on #3, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Unstoppable.[12]

IFC Films picked up the release rights in the United States, and had a 5 October 2011 release date for the premiere on Video on Demand, and an 11 November 2011 release date for the theatrical release.[13]


The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 33% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 39 reviews.[14] The film has an average score of 52 based on 13 reviews on Metacritic.[15]

Negative reviews tended to criticise the narrative as being unfocussed. The LA Times film critic, while praising the cinematography, a "beautifully bleak brush stroke of contemporary noir", and the "brutal extremes" of violence, wrote that "in trying to take a bite out of crime and another out of fame, [Monahan] ended up with more than he can chew for his first time in the director's chair".[16]

The New York Times reviewer found the cockney accents "virtually unintelligible" and complained of "abbreviated, sometimes unnecessary subplots".[17] The A.V. Club also complained of "a surplus of plot threads that don't have space to play out, and accordingly come across as clichés."[18]

The film also received significant praise. Among positive reviews, Stephanie Zacharek of Movieline praised the cinematography of two time Oscar-winner Chris Menges, and the "aura of '60s stylishness", and noted that the violence is "deftly handled".[10] In The Hollywood Reporter, Ray Bennett praised the "gleaming cinematography of London at night", and the soundtrack that "succeeds in evoking the '60s while sounding entirely in the present."[19]

In The New York Post, Kyle Smith wrote: "One of Hollywood’s most in-demand writers whips up a potent directorial debut with the vicious, spirited gangster drama 'London Boulevard'."[20] The Urban Cinefile's review stated: "Fast paced with great cinematography and an upbeat score, this graphically violent thriller satisfies on every count".[21]


  1. ^ "United Kingdom Box Office, January 7–9, 2011". Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  2. ^ Bruen, Ken (2009) [2001]. London Boulevard (Reprint ed.). New York City: Minotaur Books. ISBN 0312561687.
  3. ^ "London Boulevard". Turner Classic Movies. United States: Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Michael Fleming (22 January 2009). "Farrell, Knightley latch onto 'London'". Variety. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Michael Fleming (12 April 2009). "Trio joins 'London Boulevard'". Variety. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  6. ^ Stuart Kemp (10 June 2009). "Two join trek down 'London Boulevard'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  7. ^ Steven Zeitchik (14 July 2009). "Stephen Graham off to 'London'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 July 2009.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Knightley and Ferrell in London Boulevard". Gossip Jack. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  9. ^ Audrey Ward (8 June 2009). "London Boulevard begins shooting". Screen Daily. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  10. ^ a b Stephanie Zacharek (10 November 2011). "Colin Farrell Slow Burns Through Smart, Stylish London Boulevard". Movieline. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  11. ^ "London Boulevard trailer". Matt's Movie Reviews. 8 November 2010. Archived from the original on 13 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office 26th November 2010 - 28th November 2010". Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "London Boulevard". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  15. ^ "London Boulevard". Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  16. ^ Betsy Sharkey (11 November 2011). "'London Boulevard': Crime, fame, Colin Farrell not a good mix". LA Times. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  17. ^ Stephen Holden (10 November 2011). "Thwarting Paparazzi and Thugs". NY Times. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  18. ^ Alison Willmore (10 November 2011). "London Boulevard". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  19. ^ Ray Bennett (26 November 2011). "London Boulevard: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  20. ^ Kyle Smith (11 November 2011). "Gangster 'Boulevard' bold". New York Post. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  21. ^ Louise Keller (6 February 2016). "LONDON BOULEVARD: DVD". Urban Cinefile. Retrieved 6 February 2016.

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