A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this London-set crime/gangster drama about a reformed criminal trying to "go straight" is filled with arguing and fighting, as well as many violent killings and plenty of blood. Language is incredibly strong, with "f--k" and "c--t" used almost constantly. Characters regularly smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, and two supporting characters smoke pot; one is shown to be addicted to drugs and alcohol. There's also some topless female nudity and some kissing and suggested sex between the main characters.
What's the story?
Upon being released from jail, Mitchel (Colin Farrell) decides not to be a criminal anymore, though trouble springs up immediately when a former colleague (Ben Chaplin) hooks him up with a slightly illicit place to live and tries to get Mitchel to help collect protection money. Things look up briefly when Mitchel finds a job looking after a reclusive actress, Charlotte (Keira Knightley), helping keep the paparazzi away. Unfortunately, an attraction grows between them. And if that's not enough, some punks kill one of Mitchel's friends in cold blood, and he becomes obsessed with finding them ... a trail that leads to Gant (Ray Winstone), the most dangerous and bloodthirsty gangster of them all.
Is it any good?
Screenwriter William Monahan, who won an Oscar for The Departed, makes his directorial debut with LONDON BOULEVARD, and it's a far cry from that previous triumph. This crime story smacks of all-too-familiar elements and is told with a blandly straightforward approach. It's certainly possible to put some fire into a tired old story, but Monahan can't seem to get a spark going here.
Though blessed with a great cast and some supporting characters with intriguing quirks, London Boulevard somehow manages to render them cardboard flat. Their only purpose is to interact with the main character, and when he's not around, they all seem to be sitting around and waiting for him. None of the characters or details springs to life on their own. For example, Mitchel's friendship with an old hobo is never explained in the script, and it doesn't click on an emotional level, either. We're left with nothing much but a going-through-the-motions exercise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about London Boulevard's strong violence. How does it compare to less realistic action violence? Which has more impact? Why?
Do you think it's possible for a reformed criminal to "go straight"? What other decisions could Mitchel have made to achieve his goal?
Keira Knightley's character has a monologue about limited roles for women in movies. Does her own role in this movie transcend that? Why or why not?
- In theaters: November 11, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: February 21, 2012
- Cast: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone
- Director: William Monahan
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.