Plot: Samson (Billy Bob Thornton) is an American writer who has had some of his work published, but never broken through into true literary success. He hopes a trip to London will provide him with the atmosphere to pen his masterpiece, especially since he is going to stay in the lavish home of a famous author. At a club one night, he meets Nicola (Amber Heard) and learns she is a clairvoyant of sorts, one that has foreseen her own death. She knows the general situation, but not the specifics, though he believes it will be one of the men she met at the club that night. In addition to Samson, Nicola also encounters brash, crude darts player Keith (Jim Sturgess) and Guy (Theo James), a clean cut businessman in search of an escape. Samson is inspired by Nicola’s story and begins to turn it into his latest novel, a choice that finally breaks his writer’s block. But as Nicola and these three colorful men head toward the inevitable reality of her death, who is going to kill her and can Nicola avoid that dark fate?
Entertainment Value: London Fields had a number of high profile production woes, but even taking all that into account, this one is a wild mess that never seems to know what it wants to do. The narrative is passable, allowing for a host of colorful characters and an interesting “story within a story” approach, but it runs off the rails often and is beyond convoluted. I have to admit, I did appreciate how ridiculous the movie is at times, with odd performances, strange narrative turns, and just general nonsense, but these traits weren’t consistent enough to recommend it. I know there are those who like a good train wreck, so there is some appeal on that front and when combined with the unintentional campiness, there’s some value here. The production values are impressive as well, with lush costumes and set design elements, most of which seem to be crafted to ensure that Amber Heard looks as hot as possible. And it works, as she commands the screen, even if she doesn’t have much to do in this case. If you’re after skilled storytelling and masterful thespianship, you’ll likely be disappointed, but if you appreciate big budget, Hollywood trash fires, give London Fields a spin.
Although London Fields is a hot mess of a movie, it does have an impressive cast and some colorful characters. This is quite an ensemble of talent, but it seems to be geared toward being an Amber Heard vehicle, as she is the central role and much of the film seems tailored to her presence. She is given some remarkable costumes and looks fantastic, as the camera makes sure she is captured in skilled compositions, often making her look like quite the bad ass. The film’s stylish visuals are present throughout, but Heard seems to benefit the most, as she is featured so much. Her performance is fine, but despite being the main character, her presence comes off as more of an aesthetic than a core narrative element. A lot happens around her, but Heard isn’t given all that much to do in terms of heavy lifting. Johnny Depp appears in a prominent, but uncredited role and his issues with Heard at the time were one of the production’s troubles, though his performance is solid. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight Jim Sturgess, who turns in one of the most outlandish mainstream performances in years, beyond over the top and with accent for the ages. If you browse reviews of London Fields, no one seems to catch a word of what Sturgess says, but in a movie that doesn’t have a lot to offer, this kind of epic madness is a positive. The cast also includes Jason Isaacs, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cara Delevingne. Also keep an eye out for Murtaza, a yellow shirted extra during one of the dart competitions.