Boasting an all-star cast and penned by William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Martin Scorsese's crime thriller, The Departed, London Boulevard has all the elements to make it a top-notch gangster movie.
But if Scorsese film is the cinematic equivalent of an intricately crafted revolver, then this is simply a replica. It looks good on the surface, and does what's called of it, but offers nothing new or interesting to the genre.
It feels like Monahan, who makes his directorial debut with the film, has been looking to Guy Ritchie for inspiration too. The climactic scene should surprise audiences but the journey to that point is a predictable one with Monahan seemingly having had checked off a 'must-do' list for gritty London gangster movies – down to the gratuitous lap-dancing shots.
Reworked from a crime novel by Ken Bruen, itself a pastiche of Sunset Boulevard, it stars a 'cockney-fied' Colin Farrell as Mitchel, an ex-con who emerges from Pentonville Prison ready to make a fresh start.
Lacking funds and a place to stay, it's not long before Mitchel is sucked back into London's underbelly alongside his old mate, Billy (Ben Chaplin). But Mitchel's success on the streets soon catches the eye of ruthless crime boss Gant (Ray Winstone).
Seeing Mitchel as a potentially valuable asset, Gant extends a lucrative job offer to him – only for it to be rebuffed in no uncertain terms.
"You don't want me to be a gangster, nobody wants me to be a gangster 'cos I could not stop if I started. You'd be the first to die," Mitchel tells Gant over dinner in one of the film's most impressive scenes.
As Mitchel is soon to discover to his detriment, no one turns down Gant and the final third of the film becomes increasingly vicious in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
It's to Farrell's credit that he can chop and change between being a cold-hearted villain and a tender protector, looking out for his troubled sister (Anna Friel), and Charlotte, a reclusive actress played by an under-stretched Keira Knightley, who employs Mitchel to protect her from paparazzi.
A relationship ensues but the love story never feels more than a sub-plot.
While Winstone's at his chilling best and David Thewlis, as Charlotte's eccentric house manager Jordan, provides moments of light relief, for the most part London Boulevard is a case of style over substance and one that fans of the genre will find unsatisfying.