Everything about “Citizen Gangster” seems second-rate. Newcomer writer-director Nathan Morlando suffocates his audience with a toxic washed-out color palette of blue and gray to reflect the story’s historically based subject.
The effect is sleep-inducing. Scott Speedman does the best he can as Eddie Boyd, a World War II veteran and family man who walks off his job as a Canadian bus driver in order to follow his dream to become an actor. However, paying dues on the boards isn’t what Eddie has in mind to provide for his wife and kids. Eddie would rather put his wife Doreen’s (Kelly Reilly) make-up on his face and go rob banks. Eddie begins to treat his robberies with theatrical touches, like when he does a little soft-shoe on bank counter. To trust “Citizen Gangster’s” rendition of Canada’s ‘40s era’s criminals is to believe they had nothing on Chicago’s more colorful and brutal racketeers of the ‘20s and ‘30s.
Brimming with plot clichés and narrative short cuts, “Citizen Gangster” is a sub-standard genre piece for the filmmaker’s all-purpose approach. Nothing about the story is unique or interesting. All you see is a cultural abyss. Still, you’ve got to hand it to Scott Speedman for giving his all, even if the effort is misspent. Scott Speedman will bounce back — director Nathan Morlando, however, may not be so lucky.
Not Rated. 105 mins. (D+) (One Star - out of five/no halves)