London Boulevard Blu-ray Review
London Boulevard comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.78:1. Detail is generally very good throughout, clarity maintained with negligible edge enhancement, and no overt signs of digital defects. The colour scheme is well represented, the drab UK London weather making little difference to the image, which heightens the exposure to capture the people and places in the best possible way. Skin tones are healthy, interiors are really quite decadent, and black levels are solid, with no noticeable crush. There’s a varying level of grain which affects some scenes more than others –it largely appears to depend on the light levels – and unfortunately the 3D pop felt often non-existent. Overall, however, it’s a good, but not quite demo quality, video presentation.
The DTS-HD Master Audio accompaniment for this movie is particularly potent. You may be surprised, but right from the opening track you know just how punchy this crime drama is. Dialogue is all-important – even if the lead character listens more than says anything – and gets decent presentation from across the frontal array. Effects are actually quite good for such a comparatively low budget indie affair, with everything from the bustling traffic-ridden street noises to the incessant camera clicking from the paparazzi getting keen presentation, coming across as clearly defined and even boasting some noticeable directionality. Whether it’s a hard knock on a door, or the occasional gunshot (sometimes silenced), it all sounds remarkably authentic and seems steeped in resonance. The score is by Sergio Pizzorno (of Kasabian), and is packed with great tracks from the likes of The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan – it’s basically the best thing about an already damn good aural accompaniment for the movie, and helps some of the scenes truly come alive with palpable potency. Check out the scene where the quartet of angry-looking bouncer-types walk down the corridor towards Mitch – it really shakes things up. Which brings me to the bass, again unexpectedly significant, and a welcome surprise. Overall it’s a top notch audio track and was not what I expected for this particular movie at all. Demo quality.
The extras on the disc are undeniably thin on the ground, basically amounting to a series of short interviews with the cast and crew (8 interviews, each running at 3-6 minutes in length) and a bunch of trailers, including one for the Grisham-esque Lincoln Lawyer, and for some odd DTV Keanu Reeves film (whatever happened to him??). The half-hour of interviews is definitely worth checking out if you want to gain any insight into the characters, cast, performances, ideas and experiences of the production, but those who are so inclined will still feel remarkably underwhelmed by the limited extras on offer.
Career criminal with a violent past who, after being released from prison, attempts to go straight, but is perpetually dragged back in. Sound familiar? How about this one: Quietly-spoken professional tough-guy is recruited to protect a reclusive, eccentric celebrity. Whether reminiscent of The Bodyguard or, more pointedly, Carlito’s Way, this adaptation of Ken Bruen’s 2001 novel, London Boulevard, may be packed with tried-and-tested ideas, but it’s also populated by unusual characters brought to life with noteworthy verve by myriad Brit talent. William Monahan’s directorial debut may not be a genre classic, and may struggle to stand out in the crowd of (Brit) gangster films that are out there, but it’s still got some great performances, and a few memorable moments, and definitely has something to offer for those who afford it the time.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray, we get good video and great audio, although the extras are a little thin on the ground. Although the movie did get a limited theatrical run in the UK, last November, it still hasn’t secured a Stateside release date, and you have to wonder whether it ever will. Still, the region coding will largely prevent people those who are region-locked from skipping straight to Blu-ray. If you’re a fan of Brit gangster films, from Get Carter to The Long Good Friday, from Lock Stock, to Layer Cake, London Boulevard makes for a decent watch that’s well worth your time. It will probably never really survive strict comparison to the others, or Carlito’s Way (and The Bodyguard for that matter), and nor will it secure its place in the genre by bringing something new – and quality – to the table, but it’s still an entertaining 103 minute Brit crime drama, with some interesting characterisation, great performances, a superb soundtrack and decent direction. With a stronger story, and a few tweaks here and there, this could have been a great film. As is, if you’re interested, then it’s worth renting this first to see if you think it’s a keeper.
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