Today: February 22, 2024
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Kill The Irishman

In the Summer of 1976, more bombs went off in Cleveland, Ohio, than Belfast as a turf war between local Irish gangster Danny Greene and the Mafia spiralled out of control. Based on the book by Cleveland Police Chief Rick Porello, Kill The Irishman is the astonishing true story of how Greene became (for a while anyway) the man the Mob couldn’t kill.

In the Summer of
1976, more bombs went off in Cleveland, Ohio, than Belfast as a turf war
between local Irish gangster Danny Greene and the Mafia spiralled out of
control. Based on the book by Cleveland
Police Chief
Rick Porello, Kill The Irishman is the astonishing true story of how Greene became (for a while
anyway) the man the Mob couldn’t kill.

Borrowing as
much from Angels With Dirty Faces as
it does Goodfellas, Val Kilmer’s sympathetic cop Joe
Manditski narrates the heroic rise and just as inevitable fall of boyhood
school chum, Irish-American tough guy Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson). A dockworker,
sick of the corruption endemic in his local union, Danny fights his way to the
top, taking over the running of the docks and promptly starts lining his own
pockets in the process. After a
brief spot of bother with the authorities, Danny agrees to become an informer
for the Feds and begins a career as a leg-breaker for creepy Jewish loan shark
Shondor Birns (Christopher Walken)
and a Mob enforcer and friend to minor Mafiosi John Nardi (Vincent D’Onofrio) before striking out on his own. But when a deal goes bad Greene finds
himself in a bloody war with the Cleveland Mafia and New York’s Five
Families. With a massive bounty on
his head, suddenly everyone is out to Kill
The Irishman

With it’s
flawless ‘70s period setting, a diddle-di-dee Oirish soundtrack and fat men in
sports jackets having sit-downs, drinking espresso and talking about respect, Kill The Irishman could be virtually
any gangster movie of the last twenty years. What sets it apart are it’s powerhouse performances. While Val Kilmer doesn’t really have
much to do other than sit around on the sidelines, looking pensive and a bit
porky as he tracks his former friend’s doomed trajectory, Christopher Walken is
as reliable as ever as the oily loan shark whose duplicitousness kicks off the
war, Vinnie Jones just plays Vinnie
Jones again (but he does play Vinnie Jones very well) as one of Greene’s loyal
henchmen and Vincent D’Onofrio is surprisingly sympathetic as the low-level
mobster passed over for promotion who turns his back on his roots and tradition
and chooses to ally himself with his friend over La Cosa Nostra.

Kill The Irishman is Ray Stevenson’s film though. After spending much of his career as
Jason Statham’s substitute in a series of forgettable action movies (like
director Hensleigh’s own Punisher
movie), Stevenson has in Greene his best part since the bull-headed Roman
soldier Pullo in HBO’s Rome. A
sentimental lion of a man who was also capable of ferocious violence, the real
Greene styled himself as an Irish-American Robin Hood, a Celtic warrior
standing up to the Italian Mob, and Stevenson is obviously having a whale of a
time, giving a charismatic, grandstanding performance as the cocky tough guy
which hints at his underlying sensitivity. His Greene is an indomitable force of nature.

While it works
through the usual gangster clichés, it’s worth bearing in mind that Kill The Irishman is a true story. Just because being made an offer you
can’t refuse is a Mafia movie cliché doesn’t mean to say that those offers
don’t get made in real life. Sticking
remarkably true to the real events and seamlessly blending archive news
footage, Kill The Irishman is a solid,
dependable, gangster thriller.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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