Published May 10, 2012It's rare that a film inspired by real events stays true to its original subject matter and historical roots, yet just like the very under-seen The Hunting Party, director Nathan Morlando demonstrates that only the most ridiculous parts in this story of Canada's most notorious bank robber are true in this attention-grabbing biopic.
Based on a former WWII veteran, Edwin Boyd (Scott Speedman) struggles with his pride and frail male ego while spending his days striving to make ends meet for wife Doreen (Kelly Reilly) and his two children in East York in the '40s as a bus driver.
Tired of constantly disappointing his father (Brian Cox) and his family for not being the provider they deserve, Edwin decides to quit his job in hopes of pursuing his life-long dream of being a Hollywood actor. When those plans fall flat, Edwin decides that his only option is to rob banks in Toronto, which leads him down a path of crime, notoriety and calamity as his personal and family life fall to pieces.
For the first half, Edwin Boyd is a gripping, honest portrayal of how fragile the male ego is and how the internal struggle a man faces when being marginalized as a provider for his family affects him in the long run. Audience members will find it hard not to empathize with Edwin's plight, but after a few bank heists, Edwin starts to feel invincible and robs more banks in an effort to satiate his greed, instead of his virtuous motives.
Once Edwin is finally caught, he befriends a band of inmates (Kevin Durand, Brendan Fletcher and Joseph Cross), who eventually break out of prison together not once but twice, forming a gang and robbing banks across Ontario in this nearly unbelievable historical tale.
In spite of the fact that the film is rich with exceptional performances, (most notably from Kelly Reilly and Scott Speedman as the struggling couple in love), Edwin Boyd falters when it succumbs to the pitfalls typically seen in other heist films ― upbeat bank robbery montages and a hip and completely misplaced soundtrack ― when it should have concentrated on the human drama of the figures instead of making them completely devoid of character and integrity.
Although Edwin Boyd falls short of brilliance, it's still a competently shot and well-acted Canadian film able to engage viewers with its notable ability to entertain and educate those unaware of Canada's most notorious bank robber/folk hero. (eOne)