By Calum Marsh
By Michelle Orange
By Michael Atkinson
By Simon Abrams
By Zachary Wigon
By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
The gift William Monahan gets from the gods for winning his Departed-screenplay Oscar, this bristly Brit noir has a slick and dazzling chassis, from the Tarantino-esque opening credits to the Yardbirds songs to the torrent of East End profanity. The story, from Ken Bruen’s book, is in the end a little less substantial, a small-boned saga about an ex-con (Colin Farrell) looking to skirt the low life and stay clean, and landing an ill-defined job as Man Friday to an agoraphobic, paparazzi-besieged actress (Keira Knightley). Thanks to her wealth and unused luxury cars, our hero is pressured by underworld types, in particular Ray Winstone as the requisite soft-spoken psychopathic crime boss, to loot the premises. Monahan rather deftly conjures a novelistic raft of characters—David Thewlis as the actress’s dope-addled assistant, Ben Chaplin as Farrell’s sleazy Johnny Boy buddy, Anna Friel as a bipolar ditz, Eddie Marsan as a bent copper, etc.—but unfortunately also a novelistic slackness of purpose. Farrell’s brooder only wants peace—if he loves Knightley’s skeleton princess, he’s not saying—and Winstone’s rhino only wants Farrell as a henchman, so when he’s turned down, corpses pile up. So? A movie of 5,000 lit cigs, Monahan’s debut has verve and charisma, but, in the end, the tension of a late-night pub shrug.
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