Monday, April 16, 2012


This flick was playing in my local theater a while ago and people kept asking me about it, if I'd seen it, what I thought of it. I had heard a little about it and actually was put off a little. The "true story" of an Irish-American mobster in Cleveland who more or less brought down the local Mafia (the film implies he was responsible more or less for the collapse of "the Mafia" in general across the country) who couldn't seem to kill him despite repeated attempts from blowing up his house to shooting at him with revolvers and rifles etc.

I'm a little tired of the fascination with brutally violent men (and in some cases women), or with films about them anyway. This one's a tad more realistic than something like THE BOONDOCK SAINTS but it's still over the top at times, at least in it's seemingly awed response to the protagonist's supposed "fearlessness" (which may have been real, but ultimately the root of that kind of that kind of violent behavior is often unexamined deep set fear).

The movie was made by a screenwriter (DIE HARD I think he wrote or co-wrote), Jonathan Hensleigh, whose other two movies include one called THE PUNISHER, so he obviously is drawn to the kind of violence the movie displays. Some would say violence only a sociopath (or psychotic) could enact. Ray Stevenson in what I assume is his first real lead is a big broad shouldered man who gives a decent performance, though decent I guess would be the wrong adjective for his character, at least for me.

But the flick is full of amazing cameos and small roles by actors like Christopher Walken, Vincent D'Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Paul Sorvino, Tony Lo Bianco, etc. Most of them do their usual terrific jobs, though Kilmer seems to be wasted and he has one of the biggest parts which he doesn't seem to know what to do with, and I found pretty much unbelievable. The best acting in the whole movie for my taste was a small role as one of the lead's sidekicks, "Billy," played by Marcus Thomas. He nailed it I thought.

There's a lot of faux "Oirish" business that I also found a little embarrassing. the lead character is supposed to be a big reader, like a closet intellectual (who seems to enjoy beating people's faces to pulp with his fists or a board or bat etc.) yet he talks about Irish history like someone uneducated about it. I may be being a little harsh because he does get the general outline correct at times. Maybe that's just a quibble from a print junkie like me, but the bigger issue is the glorification of crime and violence and self-righteous self-glorification.

I've been guilty of the latter myself, so I ain't pointing a finger out of my own self-righteousness. I'd just like to see a movie get this stuff really right, the nasty selfish sociopath behavior without any aura of specialness but instead the banality and stupidity of it all.


Lally said...

tpw tried to leave a comment and couldn't so I'm sharing his email here:

Dear M:

Tried to leave a comment again, after jumping through the usual hoops (typing in the strange letters, signing into my Google acct. etc.), but it didn't take. Very frustrating. But here's the comment anyway:

I liked this movie, though I didn't think it was great. He did a good job impersonating an American. I agree with you completely on our collective fascination with sociopaths (Pacino's "Scarface" is the most egregious example of this, IMO), and yet we do seem to be drawn to their stories. I loved Ray Stevenson as Pullo in "Rome." Did you watch that?


Lally said...

Oh, and by the way T, I knew I knew him from somewhere but didn't realize it was that character on ROME, which you are correct, he did really well. This one was just too mostly one dimensional, or maybe not o much one dimensional as shallowly dimensional.

Lally said...

PS: somehow the settings for comments went back to requiring you to print letters etc. though I had turned that off before. More techno dysfunction etc. Should be easier now.