Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Joaquin Phoenix Gets His Stoner Detective Groove On In Trailer For Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Watch: Joaquin Phoenix Gets His Stoner Detective Groove On In Trailer For Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ David Fincher Will Direct The Entire First Season Of HBO's 'Utopia' In 2015 David Fincher Will Direct The Entire First Season Of HBO's 'Utopia' In 2015 Brad Pitt Says 'Fury' Co-Star Shia LaBeouf Is "One Of The Best Actors I've Ever Seen" Brad Pitt Says 'Fury' Co-Star Shia LaBeouf Is "One Of The Best Actors I've Ever Seen" First Look: Kristen Stewart & Nicholas Hoult In Drake Doremus’ Sci-Fi Film ‘Equals’ First Look: Kristen Stewart & Nicholas Hoult In Drake Doremus’ Sci-Fi Film ‘Equals’ John Cusack Says Hollywood Is A "Whorehouse" That "Eats Young Actors Up And Spits Them Out" John Cusack Says Hollywood Is A "Whorehouse" That "Eats Young Actors Up And Spits Them Out" New Image From 'Inherent Vice,' Paul Thomas Anderson Completely Changed The Ending From Thomas Pynchon's Book New Image From 'Inherent Vice,' Paul Thomas Anderson Completely Changed The Ending From Thomas Pynchon's Book Why 'You're The Worst' Turned Out To Be The Best TV Show Of The Summer Why 'You're The Worst' Turned Out To Be The Best TV Show Of The Summer Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody New Look: Reese Witherspoon And Joaquin Phoenix In Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' New Look: Reese Witherspoon And Joaquin Phoenix In Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' Review: David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens & More Review: David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens & More 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" While You're Waiting For 'Interstellar,' Here's Over 100 Behind-The-Scenes Photos From 'The Dark Knight' Trilogy While You're Waiting For 'Interstellar,' Here's Over 100 Behind-The-Scenes Photos From 'The Dark Knight' Trilogy First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

Review: 'Citizen Gangster' Hits All The Familiar Notes Of The Bank Robber Subgenre

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist April 25, 2012 at 8:05PM

Edwin Alonzo Boyd was one of Canada’s prominent bank robbers following World War II. A splashy, glamorous war vet with a flair for theatrics, he managed to swindle several financial institutions in between two daring prison breaks, all in the name of his wife and children. And yet, the reason why this story hasn’t circulated all that much before “Citizen Gangster” is because Boyd’s story really is a whole lot like any other bank robber’s. Once you’ve seen a few of these movies, there’s not a whole lot of variation.
0
Citizen Gangster

Edwin Alonzo Boyd was one of Canada’s prominent bank robbers following World War II. A splashy, glamorous war vet with a flair for theatrics, he managed to swindle several financial institutions in between two daring prison breaks, all in the name of his wife and children. And yet, the reason why this story hasn’t circulated all that much before “Citizen Gangster” is because Boyd’s story really is a whole lot like any other bank robbers'. Once you’ve seen a few of these movies, there’s not a whole lot of variation.

Scott Speedman is Boyd, a veteran-turned-working stiff who can’t seem to hold onto a job, either due to restlessness or a rough-and-tumble economy. Feeling the crunch of wife Doreen (Kelly Reilly) and their two kids, he also can’t escape his thirst for showmanship. In the first scene, he returns home with bad news banging around in his head, but also a 45 recording of him singing “Fly Me To The Moon.” Things can’t be all that bad if his ego is being fed, even if he can’t seem to get a single acting audition.

Citizen Gangster

With his family pushed to the point of financial desperation, Boyd grabs a gun and lays on some makeshift Kabuki-style makeup, pulling off a series of heists with speed, efficiency, and a movie star twinkle in his eye. Speedman is a perfect casting choice for this part, a guy who isn’t a star but clearly thinks he’s got the moves, pumped by the slightest bit of success even if the cops are slowly moving in. After a series of successful heists, he’s caught at the scene, though he can’t seem to shake his “gotcha” smirk. When Detective Rhys (William Mapother) says, “My wife is going to be happy about this,” Boyd perks up. “Oh, was she a fan?” he roguishly asks, only to be doused with cold water. “No. It means I’ll finally be home early for once.”

In prison, Boyd makes a colorful acquaintance. Lenny Jackson is another former war vet turned bank robber, and lucky for Boyd, he and his brother are planning an escape. The low-temperature appeal of Speedman could only carry the film so far, but as Jackson, Kevin Durand, with his rude musculature and sleazy crooked smile, is a standout. Less fancy than moviestar Boyd, but more of a tough-guy alpha, Durand threatens to steal the movie, adding some much-needed sex appeal and swagger to what is essentially a pretty standard true crime tale.

Citizen Gangster

Writer/director Nathan Morlando gets a few human details accurate, providing one or two fresh touches to a tired genre -- Boyd spending time with his family post-breakout must be rudely interrupted by false alarms whenever a siren is heard -- but for the most part, there’s the same push-and-pull of criminal activity versus responsibilities. Boyd claims he’s robbing banks for his family, but he can’t resist the good life, not so much the cars or the spending sprees (he is thrifty with his own needs, and never strays from his wife) but the thrill of performance, the glamour of sticking it to the man. After a few robberies with his gang, his peacock strut returns, flirting with tellers and cracking jokes.

The pop-psychology approach to this is found in Boyd’s father Glover, a stern taskmaster who scoffed at Boyd’s post-war ennui. Perfectly enough, he was also a decorated former cop, giving impetus for young Edwin to stick it to authority. Not the freshest idea, and if you had five guesses, you’d predict he was played by Brian Cox. His work in the film is emblematic of the type of picture “Citizen Gangster” ends up being -- gruff and monosyllabic at first blush, he ends up showing a surprising bit of tenderness towards the imprisoned son, bringing significant nuance to a thankless role. And if you don’t know where every single one of his scenes is going, you probably have never seen a movie before. [C+]

This article is related to: Review, Scott Speedman, Kelly Reilly, Brian Cox, Kevin Durand


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates