Kill the Irishman
Running Time: 106 minutes
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Linda Cardellini, Vinnie Jones, Paul Sorvino
Directed By: Jonathan Hensleigh
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
An Irishmen rises up to take on Cleveland’s mob.
I read the synopsis for this movie and I took away two things from it. The first thing was that the lead character was impossible to kill. The second thing was that the lead character robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. I thought to myself, how could a movie that is basically an Irish version of William Wallace meets Robin Hood, be bad? My instincts were right as I did very much enjoy this film. Kill the Irishman is the true story of a man named Danny Greene. He was an Irish tough guy who was working for the mob in Cleveland during the 1970’s.
Who knew Cleveland even had a mob? Right off the bat, this film was original from the location alone. The New York and Chicago landscapes have been done to death in mob films. So, although Cleveland may have a shitty football team (No comments from Brown’s fans, I live in Toronto which is the capital city of bad sports teams), their city was perfect for a story of organized crime and corruption. There is something really endearing about an impoverished man who rises up to take on the world. Danny Greene was an Irish-American who was just struggling to make ends meet. He started off as a general laborer and through his imposing stature and his natural charisma, he was able to quickly rise to the top of Cleveland’s elite/underworld. But when people rise too fast and try to take on too much power, there is always someone there to try and cut you down to size. The film sees Danny start a family, start a gang, and start to take on true power. He was a man that was bigger than life and yet he never forgot the little guy, and was beloved because of that fact. Why I liked the first half of this film is that there is no nonsense. Danny goes about his business and gains the trust of lots of the big players in Cleveland. He may drink too much, he may neglect his family, and he may even have problems with the law, but it is all there for the viewer to see. No real twists, just a guy scrapping for every inch of territory and for every possible dollar.
This movie would not have succeeded without Ray Stevenson playing Danny Greene. The guy is an imposing character on screen, and wins the viewer over with an easy bravado and a macho demeanor. When people say something cannot be done, Danny punches them in the face and does it anyway. It is a great performance and he was easy to root for. While the film tries to incorporate too many characters, Stevenson is the rock that holds this film in place. It would have been nice to see more of Christopher Walken, Vinnie Jones, and company, but you kind of only notice that after the film is done.
As the film continues one thing becomes clear, don’t drive ANYWHERE. Apparently, car bombs were the toast of the town back of the day, so whenever one of your favorite characters gets in a car, starts a car, or even is near a car, you cringe in expectation of the worst. As the city of Cleveland falls in love with the enigma that is Danny Greene, so does the viewer. He may be a man of suspect morality, but he has a code and remembers where he is from. He takes on the mob with a small crew and spits in its eye. What once was a relatively quiet city, quickly turns into an explosive battle ground where there can only be one victor. In conclusion, I don’t know if this film is historically accurate, but I do know I was entertained by it. While it isn’t the best mob film I have seen, it will win you over with its sharp personality. Danny Greene is a cool figure to watch, and a guy you would want to throw a Whiskey back with (or 30).
Jonathan Hensleigh is best known for directing The Punisher (2004). He also looks like Kevin Dillon (which is not a good thing.) Hensleigh takes a story that has been done dozens of times before and makes it fresh. You will honestly care about Danny Greene, his life, his family, and all his close calls with death. Hensleigh also does a great job of incorporating a pretty solid cast and getting the most from each individual role. With little wasted screen time, Hensleigh should be proud of this finished product.
I give this movie a recommendation, and it makes me want to chug a bottle of Jameson’s as I write this.
T Factor + If you like mob movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like lots of action/gun fights in your films then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Knockaround Guys, Donnie Brasco.