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Nov 9, 2012This is one of those films that after you sit through, you might want the hour and 44 minutes of your life refunded back to you. It is a pointless biographical flick about a notorious Canadian criminal who the films seems to want to make into a redeeming character, even though a quick Google of his name reveals that he murdered a couple before his Robin-Hood-like bank robbing spree began. The film fails to mention this important fact as the final credits role. Unless you like low budget campy crime movies, this is one you can safely pass up.… Expand
May 13, 2012This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Sometimes an inept gangster is just an inept gangster, and there's little else you can do about that.
"Citizen Gangster" is a low budget movie about an ex WWII Canadian soldier who felt so alienated in the humdrum of peace-time Toronto, that started robbing banks for a living. It's a story in the vein of "Public Enemies", Goddard's "Breathless", "Bonnie and Clyde", you name it, as you've seen it countless times: the "loveable" gangster, who fights not only society's rules, but also the conformity of being an uncouth bully armed with a gun.
This one, Eddie Alonzo Boyd (played by Joseph Cross), married with two children, secretly leaves his bus driving day job, and takes his war-time Luger to a personal war against poverty (and... boredom?). He disguises himself with sinister make-up reminding us of The Joker, which thus becomes his "public persona"; he jumps graciously over bank counters right in the lap of young female tellers, asking them politely, and at gun point, to "fill the bag".
His family life is destroyed after his secret is revealed, and a non-descript police detective manages to botch one of his downtown hits and cuff him. But Boyd breaks out of jail with a couple of acolytes (among which another WWII veteran with a wooden leg), and gets back to being the "dazzling" bank robber the world has known him for.
The film tries to give some meaning to the conflicted love between Boyd and his inexplicably devoted wife (Kelly Reilly), it attemtps to sprinkle glitz over the "wild" lifestyle of these bandits (where everybody parties in a sordid building), and finally strikes a tragic chord with the re-capturing of Eddie Boyd and his men in the middle of a snowy field outside Toronto.
This movie is also the story of a young Canadian director (Nathan Morlando) who struggles with poor resources, who fails to be inventive enough in his use of clichÃ©s (nods to predecessors are ok, as long as they're a means to an end), and reaches the finish line of his first feature film exhausted, and with a feeling of emptiness. The characters are choppy, the love story a bit drab, and the only thing that seems accomplished is the film's overall sense of pace.
When the only things you have is a few interiors and a bunch of moderately good actors, I guess the way to go around a story like that is to build characters accurately, develop relationships meaningfully, and weave creative dialogue in the framework of a conventional plot: none of which happened in "Citizen Gangster".… Expand
To his credit, writer-director Nathan Morlando has crafted a stylishly shot and evocatively designed period piece. But it's the dashing, quietly charismatic Speedman who proves the main draw, holding our attention even when the movie doesn't.