I watched London Boulevard on TV at the weekend. The best way I can describe it is… You know those times when you’re feeling lonely and your phone buzzes? ‘Ah ha!’ you think, ‘I’ve got a text. Someone loves me’. Your chubby little fingers scramble to bring your device to life; only to discover it’s some automated message about which you couldn’t care less. You’re left feeling deflated, dejected, and slightly used. So there it is. London Boulevard.
On paper it had promise. A good cast: Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis, Anna Friel and Colin Farrell. Celebrated screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) was directing although, based on results, perhaps he should stick to writing. To be fair the film is passable, albeit unmemorable. Whilst it’s hardly The Departed (I mean, what is? Before you say it I’m aware of Infernal Affairs) it is still a decent effort for a debut director.
However, Monahan is not on trial here. Back to Farrell.
Since he burst onto the scene with Tigerland (2000) I’d argue he’s done precious little to justify his continued career – bar a few exceptions. Phone Booth (2002) really made me sit up and take notice. This guy has talent. And then, having shown what he can do, he ducked his head below the parapet for about six years, before catching everyone off guard with a brilliant turn in the darkly comic In Bruges (2008).
There it is! I hadn’t seen Farrell’s comedy chops since Ordinary Decent Criminal (2000). And that was way back in the day, practically Ballykissangel (1998) era where it all began. Now I’m not saying comedy should be his de facto genre of choice. But it would be good to see more of it. That said, Farrell does like to dabble in a variety of genres. Perhaps that’s his problem. What’s his strength? What does he stand for? Now I know actors don’t like to be pigeonholed but… If you were given the task of explaining the type of actor Colin Farrell is, what would you say?
Is he intense? Is he funny? Would you say he’s an A-list pretender punching above his weight? Or is he a true talent? For example, since the action heydays of the ’80s, Hollywood has always been searching round for the next leading action man. They’ve toyed with Farrell a few times: Daredevil (2003), S.W.A.T. (2003), Miami Vice (2006), Total Recall (2012). But I just don’t buy it. Again, he’s passable. Solid. Gets the job done. But it’s just not enough. Not nearly enough.
With some actors you can tell, you can sense it. He’s got talent I know it. Detractors would say it’s hidden talent, lurking beneath the surface at best. That still counts. I just don’t know what he needs to bring it out. Not that it’s my job to bring it out, but we all need hope.
As Christopher Walken says in Seven Psychopaths (another passable Farrell film), ‘Dream sequences are for fags, but we all gotta dream, don’t we?’