December 16, 2011
All the ingredients but no glue
Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2011
After a short stint in the pen, a hardened crook (Colin Farrell) decides to go straight, and lucks into a job as the handyman/bodyguard (and eventually lover) of a ludicrously famous actress/model (Keira Knightley) with paparazzi issues. At the same time, an old partner in crime (Ben Chaplin) and a nasty new crime boss (Ray Winstone, who can do this in his sleep) are trying to entice/coerce him back into The Life. This Brit nod to Sunset Boulevard has all the ingredients: capable performances by good-looking stars as well as strong supporting actors (David Thewlis and Anna Friel), solid atmosphere, and even a retro soundtrack evoking a swingin’ London. But there’s no glue, resulting in a sporadically entertaining but ultimately disappointing exercise in style over substance. This is a little surprising, seeing that it’s the directorial debut of screenwriter William Monahan, who bagged an Oscar for brilliantly adapting Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs into Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. The story is crowded with subplots and presented in often-changing cinematic styles (noir/romance/true crime)— inevitably leading to some choppy, disorienting editing. It’s watchable, but you might do so with a sense of wasted talent and missed opportunity.