Based on a novel, London Boulevard tells the story of Mitchel (Farrell), who is released from prison and dreads his inevitable encounter with the criminal roots of his past. As much as he tries to avoid trouble, he falls right in when he becomes romantically involved with Charlotte (Knightley), a young actress who has hired him as her bodyguard in some sort of disturbing Whitney Houston-Kevin Costner arrangement. That may sound more like a recipe for a sweet Beauty and the Beast romance, but complications swiftly arrive in the form of Gant (Winston), the villain who will stop at nothing to recruit Mitchel into his mob world.

Farrell, to say the least, is a chronically inconsistent actor who will star in one good film amidst several box office duds. Unfortunately, his effort in London Boulevard falls closer to a dud. Director William Monahan comes off more as a misguided debuting director, and not as the Oscar-winning writer of 2006’s The Departed that he also is.

On paper, London Boulevard's plot is solid, but it's the pace of the film that drags it down. Although the storyline and acting aren't totally offensive to the senses, they definitely don’t live up to the actors’ reputations. Farrell’s performance at times is a liitle contrived and more fit for the theatre than for film, while Knightley plays it safe and rarely comes out of her comfort zone. Furthermore, the couple’s onscreen chemistry comes across as forced and fails to convince. Winstone’s performance is overshadowed by a London cockney accent that is even more severe than his real one.

Technically, this film falls under the crime genre, although there’s very little crime in the film to justify this genre categorisation. London Boulevard lacks the intense actions sequences that some might be expecting, and it moves more like a film-noir; dark, slow and broody. Overall, this film lacks the pace, suspense and thrill to make waves at the box office, and the script is almost too faithful to the novel to translate effectively onto the screen.