[With Canada's Top 10 screening in a few major cities in Canada in the coming weeks, the time is ripe to re-visit some of the titles we've seen throughout the last year. This review originally appeared at Quiet Earth.]
I‘m a total sucker for historical tales of real people I’m not familiar with so the appeal of Edwin Boyd, a WWII veteran and family man (and Canadian no less!) who is so disillusioned with his life that he turns to bank robbery, was immediate.
Scott Speedman stars as Boyd, a WWII veteran who has returned from the war and is eking out a living for his young family. Times are tough, money’s tight and Boyd is at the end of his rope. On a particularly bad day he walks off his bus driver job and tries to crack the entertainment industry. That doesn’t work out as expected and when his father steps in to help out the family, something in Boyd breaks and he takes matters into his own hands. The solution: bank robbery.
Things go well for Boyd whose good humour and showmanship come through in his robberies and when he gets caught, it’s almost disappointing. While in jail, he meets up with another bank robber, the one footed Lenny Jackson (played by the severely underrated Kevin Durand) and along with Jackson’s cronies, the group sets up another gang, this one hitting up bigger banks with bigger paydays. As Boyd’s irregular day job brings in higher payouts and larger headlines, his relationship with his wife disintegrates and when Boyd is finally caught, after yet another escape, it’s clear that his relationship with his family, the reason for the robberies to begin with, is finished.
There are some interesting things at play in Nathan Morlando’s feature film debut, a passion project 10 years in the making, but it doesn’t all work. Speedman, Durand and the rest of the cast, including Kelly Reilly as Boyle’s wife Doreen, manage quite well with the script but there isn’t a whole lot for them to work with. Much of writing is flat and uninteresting and there’s very little emotion to the story. The film feels vacant and though I wanted to cheer for Boyd whose good looks, personality and skewed sense of morality make him a likable persona, but there isn’t enough depth to the character to really cheer for.
There’s also the film’s distinct lack of tension. The heists themselves are played a bit tongue-in-cheek and there’s no sense or urgency to any of the story. Even when the gang is dying of cold and hunger while hiding out after their second escape… it’s almost as if they’re just waiting to get caught and though we know that the police is after them and at one point even see them coming, I still didn’t feel anything for any of the characters. There’s no tension in any of the film – a real problem when the most of it centers on a group of criminals on the run from police – in one of the largest manhunts in Canadian history no less!
What’s worse is that after a bit of additional reading, the film feels even more inadequate. It’s not uncommon for biopics to change, sometimes drastically, parts of the story, but Morlando left out portions that could have served to develop Boyle and his relationship with his wife and father, something which the story returns to on various occasions but never fully explores.
I didn’t care much for Edwin Boyd which feels overly long for the story it tells, not to mention that it lacks any punch, but it is a feature debut worth noting not to mention it features good performances from both Speedman and Durand. These two need to work together again. Soon.