There are certain things that make London stand out from other cities; the double decker buses, the Victorian terraced houses, the (now scarce) red phone boxes, the drizzle… Setting a movie in the British capital might be as easy as sticking a red bus in the background, but certain films have made London as much a part of the plotline as any of the leading roles. Here, in no particular order, are the movies where London has been portrayed at its best, worst and most lifelike.
Guns of... Hackney
The spate of crime thrillers started by Guy Ritchie after the success of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and swiftly followed by Snatch, Layer Cake, Gangster No. 1 and a plethora of other heist movies are hardly representative of London, but they did feature Cockney gangsters to darkly comic effect and to the utter thrill of our Transatlantic friends. Many were disappointed when, upon taking a walk down Columbia Road they encountered well-heeled couples perusing the flower market or locals in designer sports gear heading for a jog around Victoria Park rather than criminals in full flight, dropping diamonds out of a rucksack as they sped away in a car with blacked out windows, but can you imagine Vinnie Jones & Co going about their business in any other neighbourhood?
Oh, the Horror
Who can forget the eerie scene in 28 Days Later when the protagonist leaves hospital to find a deserted Westminster Bridge with overturned buses and rubble piling up on the surrounding streets? Danny Boyle’s frighteningly realistic 2002 film showed us what London might look like in the event of a zombie takeover - there go decades of urban gentrification. Three years later Creep was released, a British horror film about a woman who falls asleep on the tube and becomes trapped in the station after it closes. She then spends the night trying to find her way out while avoiding the advances of a deformed creature that lives in one of the tunnels and seems to have a penchant for killing and eating unsuspecting members of staff. For the trainspotters amongst you, much of the action takes place at Charing Cross station and the tunnels around the now disused Aldwych station.