Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: "Kill the Irishman" Comes in Guns Blazing

PopcornBiz, NBC Los Angeles, 3.10.11
by Scott Ross

Director Jonathan Hensleigh assembled the Movie Tough Guy Junior Varsity All-Stars and to tell the story of Danny Greene, a first-generation Irish-American who spent much of the 1970s at war with the Cleveland mafia. Seeing as you’ve probably never heard of him, you can likely guess how that worked. Nonetheless, “Kill the Irishman” spins a great yarn about a man reaching for the American Dream with his fists and a gun.

Ray Stevenson, the heavy in recent films like “The Other Guys” and "The Book of Eli,” stars as Greene, a man who started out as a union man on the docks of Cleveland, before “working” his way up to union boss and eventually becoming a renowned gangster. Stevenson attacks the role with a strapping build and tough-guy swagger, snarling, snorting and swinging away at every turn. With his ridiculous wisp of a comb over, the glorious porn-stache and faint remnants of a brogue, Stevenson paints a rich portrait of the kind of violent monster only a film fan could love.

The cast is loaded with talent: Christopher Walken as numbers runner Alex “Shondor” Birns; Paul Sorivino as Tony Salerno, the head of the Genovese crime family; Vinnie Jones as Greene’s enforcer, ex-Hell’s Angel Keith Ritson, Val Kilmer as Joe Manditski, a Cleveland cop who befriends Greene; and most magnificently, Vincent D’Onofrio as John Nardi, mobster and the lone Italian with whom Greene got along. D’Onofrio’s performance is a frustrating reminder of what a great career he could have had. His accent, cadence, facial expressions, lumbering gait are all fantastic--the guy never cheats a scene.

There is a great deal of fisticuffs, shootouts, and car bombings, as befits a fill with the word “Kill” in the title, but Hensleigh keeps things from getting stale. The onslaught of violence is broken up by the grim humor in Jeremy Walters’ screenplay. Hensleigh also owes a huge debt of gratitude to his art department who got the cars, hair, clothes and sets just right.

As with any biopic, the film is full of composites, falsehoods, half-truths and fabrications, but “Kill the Irishman” gets a bump in verite with the use through out of actual news coverage—featuring the likes of Brian Ross (now with ABC) and David Brinkley--Greene’s accident, peaking in the summer of 1976, when three dozen explosions rocked the city of Cleveland as gangsters battled it out.

“Kill the Irishman” doesn’t re-invent the mob genre, but a great cast and story make for a good time that packs plenty of punch and some dark laughs.

Thanks Linda!

1 comment:

Kris Ann said...

Love the "most magnificently" description, but I think Vincent has had a wonderful career, personally.

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List of films in production.

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]
An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s. Vincent....Al Anderson


A story about the early life of Tennessee Williams

Directed by James Franco
Vincent D'Onofrio, Jacob Loeb

"American Falls" - [TBA]

In a rural town in Southern Idaho, the Suzukis, a Japanese American family, run a small motel. One night they get a strange visitor who sports ‘city’ clothes who turns out to be the first African-American man that Toru Suzuki’s children have ever seen. Yoshiko takes it upon herself to solve the mystery about this man, especially when 2 police officers come knocking on their door.

Short film produced by Erika Hampson.
Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Foster.

'Purgatory' [TBA]

'Purgatory' [TBA]
Tagline: In the Wild West a lot of blood was spilled... but it didn't go to waste. Vincent....Dallas Stoudenmire

"A Fall From Grace" [TBA]

Detective Michael Tabb knows the city of St. Louis inside and out. He has felt its true heart, as much as its dark underbelly: but he does not know who, in both the dark and light - is taking the lives of young girls.

Director: Jennifer Lynch
Producer/Writer ...Eric Wilkinson

Vincent D'Onofrio ....George Lawson (GRACE's father)
Tim Roth.......Detective Tabb

Filming in St Louis - TBA

"Supreme Ruler" [TBA]

A man campaigns to become the leader of the Buffalo lodge.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Hank Dory
Ron Livingston as Steve
Marcia Gay Harden as Nancy

"The Monster Next Door" [TBA]

"The Monster Next Door" - Comedy Horror

Executive Produced by Dennis Johnson, Melanie Mohlman Produced by Eric Wilkinson, David Michaels
Written by Jim Robbins
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Bill Pullman, French Stewart, Bill Moseley

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]
Vincent......Harvey Weinstein

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