KILL THE IRISHMAN (2011) / Crime-Drama

Running Length: 106 minutes
MPAA Classification: R for strong violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity.

Cast: Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Christopher
Walken, Linda Cardinelli, Jason Butler Harner, Vinnie Jones, Paul Sorvino, Tony Lo Bianco, Mike Starr
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
Producers: Al Corley, Bart Rosenblatt, Tara Reid, Tommy Reid
Screenplay: Jonathan Hensleigh (based upon the novel To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia by Rick Porello)

There’s no denying that the story of Danny Greene and the Cleveland mob war was destined to become a motion picture; it’s just too bad that it had to be Kill the Irishman. Set in the 1970s, Kill the Irishman chronicles the rise and fall of Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson, Punisher: War Zone), the strong-willed Irish-American labor union rep whose request for a loan results in him becoming the number one target of the mob and their countless assassination attempts.

Now sure, Kill the Irishman is no Goodfellas and we don’t expect for it to be, but that’s no excuse to give it credit. This is a B-movie – cheaply filmed and unattractive looking. From the film’s opening scene, we know what’s in store for us. The special effects are dull and dumb and the direction is bland, and despite being based on a true story, the plot gets old after the first hour is up. The final 45 minutes are a mess of beatings, stabbings, emotional moments, and spectacularly bad explosions. While there is enough mayhem to satisfy the audience that Kill the Irishman was made for, I doubt that their attention will be held for very long.

Stevenson is good in his role as Greene, creating a sturdy central character that the others build off of. Also, like his character, Stevenson sticks out amongst a crowd of familiar faces. (Kill the Irishman is only his ninth feature film.) Among the supporting cast are legendary actors such as Tony Lo Bianco, Christopher Walken, Paul Sorvino, Mike Starr, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Val Kilmer and Vinnie Jones. Surprisingly enough, Stevenson is the best out of any of them and it’s his performance that makes Kill the Irishman consistently watchable. Director Jonathan Hensleigh (The Punisher) assembles a cast of tough faces, but doesn’t use any of them to their full ability. They are simply there; used to inspire fear with frowns and curse words, but frankly they look tired of playing the same characters in the same movie over and over again.

Potential is a key word here, and while Kill the Irishman has a couple of interesting scenes, it ends up being another lackluster, run-of-the-mill gangster flick. It’s not bad. It’s worse than bad – disappointingly average. It’s not anything that you haven’t seen before and I doubt that you’ll want to see it again.

Final rating: ★★ (out of ★★★★)

© 2012 Stephen Earnest


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