Lords of London is a crazy mystic British gangster movie. Part It’s A Wonderful Life and part The Krays. It’s a tonal mix that doesn’t quite work – but at least they tried to do something different.
Glen Murphy plays Tony Lord, a London gangster who is shot during the film’s (colourful) opening credits. He wakes up in a sleepy Italian village, with no idea how he got there though he soon learns that he is there to correct a lifetime of wrongs.
Don’t let the cover fool you, this isn’t a London based gangster flick with Ray Winstone. Winstone merely has about five minutes screen time in a series of flashbacks as Murphy’s father. However, fans will be happy as he gets to deliver some of the genre’s trademark (or cliched) ‘Facking’ shouting (‘What you facking looking at’ etc.). The film’s original title was the much more apt – Lost In Italy, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t really sell to its core audience. Nice holiday for the cast and crew though (although poor Ray Winstone doesn’t seem to have left London).
Now on to spoilers.
The crux of Lords of London is that Tony Lord is transported back to 1950s Italy to see how his parents (played in these scenes by Christopher Hattersall Serena and Iansiti) met. Old Tony is charged with stopping his mother leaving Italy with his no-good daddy – we know he’s no good because he lies, cheats, steals, takes his young son on gangland business and has a hatred for cold mashed potato. Okay, maybe we can forgive him for that last one.
Lords of London is let down by Antonio Simoncini’s script and direction. He gives away the twist much too early and we never get to know any of the characters – including Tony and his parents (young and old). Everyone is drawn with broad strokes, ticking-off every Italian and Londoner cliche in the process. The Italian locations look nice though, and at least Simoncini attempts to do something different with the Brit-gangster genre, which is a genre where anything different is a bonus.
On its own, Lords of London isn’t much, but it feels quite refreshing when compared to the many gangster films over the past couple of decades. That’s slight praise, but at least it is praise.