Citizen Gangster

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Citizen Gangster
Directed by Nathan Morlando
IFC Films
Opens April 27

Gently mining unknown history—to U.S. audiences anyway—this smooth biopic of Canada's most notorious post–World War II bank robber (was there more than one?) actually benefits from its low-key tone. In a compellingly passive lead performance, Scott Speedman plays Edwin Boyd, a veteran, possible PTSD sufferer, and family man who's pushed into thievery when his thespian dreams are dashed by Lorne Greene refusing to take a meeting. Boyd pulls off a few hammy heists on his own before landing in prison, where he falls in and eventually breaks out with a gang featuring the requisite muscle-bound hothead (Kevin Durand) and weaselly, adoring hanger-on (Joseph Cross). The crew sprees, Boyd's long-suffering wife (Kelly Reilly) suffers, and a driven cop (Lost's William Mapother) closes in with the help of Boyd's dad (Brian Cox). There's nothing new in Citizen Gangster: Its washed-out palette and postwar milieu recall The Krays and Road to Perdition, et al, while the wider social implications of Boyd's emotional disorder are never really explored (that thread climaxes when he mutters "The world is crazy; I'm only its mirror" during a job). The film also frequently lulls into dullness. But first-time writer-director Nathan Morlando shows commendable focus (even Cox dials it down), and his movie's modest aspirations nicely reflect the condition in which Boyd, his damaged charisma spent, finally thrives.

 
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