It should have been so good: The source material was a novel by top-notch Irish crime novelist Ken Bruen. The script was by The Departed's William Monahan, also making his directorial debut, with a story that seemed poised to do for modern-day South London hard men what the Scorsese film did for Whitey Bulger's Bah-stun bad guys. As a stoic ex-con trying to go straight, Colin Farrell could finally play the Steve McQueen--cool antihero you knew he had in him; the supporting cast featured a who's who of incredible U.K. character actors---Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan, Boardwalk Empire's Stephen Graham, David Thewlis---as Blighty odds 'n' sods. What could go wrong, right?
Plenty, of course, as this full-clip misfire reminds us of a valuable lesson: Not even talent, tastefully dressed tough guys and a metropolitan backdrop dripping with after-hours menace can compensate for a complete lack of momentum or drama. You can sense what Monahan is aiming for, with his nods to '60s Union Jack chic (the soundtrack drops in a vintage British Invasion or blooze cut roughly every 45 seconds) and every great London gangster flick of the past 40 years. But for each sharp suit or sharp line ("I was on a kid's show, then I was on methadone..."), this genre exercise displays a dozen different examples of bad judgment: pacing that mistakes sluggish for atmospheric; subplots involving a smacked-out sister, a homeless father figure and a tabloid-magnet actor (Knightley) that all fizzle; a needlessly complex narrative that devolves into incoherence. Close this street down.
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