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Citizen Gangster Review

By Lexi Feinberg

Crime After Crime


There aren't many - any? - solid Canadian gangster films in existence, and here comes "Citizen Gangster" to turn that around. Writer-director Nathan Morlando, making his feature film debut, shows a knack for style and feeling in this surprisingly engaging true-ish story about Edwin Boyd, a notorious Toronto bank robber post-World War II.

The best part of "Citizen Gangster" is Scott Speedman, who maybe, just maybe, will get people to stop thinking of him as Ben from "Felicity" with this role. (Though let's not bet more than Monopoly money on that.) He is so good as Boyd, alternating from caring family man to fame-seeking bank robber. When he's with his wife (Kelly Reilly), he is tender and romantic, slow dancing with her at random, flipping pancakes with his children.

But he's also a disgruntled war veteran who drives a bus and can't find his big break in the acting world. This is what leads him to bank holdups: a desire to provide for his family while also scratching the fame itch. So he proceeds to skip on countertops at banks and say, "Hello everybody, welcome to the show!" as he robs them blind. He's an interesting, multi-leveled character, and even better that he's based on a real person.

"Citizen Gangster" doesn't go the obvious route of having him lead a double life without anyone finding out until the very end when he's shot down in a blaze of glory by the cops. This is not that movie. It's more about raw moments, like when he's lying in bed in the daytime as his father (Brian Cox) bemoans that he's been lazy all his life. Or when he gets a twinkle in his eye after a robbery and you wonder if he's gone mad or is addicted to the thrill of it all.

The film is shot in very grey, shaded tones, with little to no vibrancy. It sets a certain mood and allows the performances to stand out more without the distraction of showy special effects. No, it's not a classic like "Bonnie and Clyde," but it's a pretty impressive film about an unusual guy, and the last frame won't soon be forgotten. Way to go, Canada.

What did you think?

Movie title Citizen Gangster
Release year 2012
MPAA Rating NR
Our rating
Summary A Canadian family man can't stop robbing banks in this captivating film.
View all articles by Lexi Feinberg
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