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Movie Review: 'Kill the Irishman'

The film plays like an explosion's aftermath: shards of mob movies that add up to the usual "Goodfellas" knockoff.

March 11, 2011|By Robert Abele
  • Shondor Birns (Christopher Walken) is offering cash to whoever kills the "Irishman," Danny Greene, who's challenging the Mafia.
Shondor Birns (Christopher Walken) is offering cash to whoever kills the… (Anchor Bay Films )

When someone survives as many attempted hits as Cleveland-based Irish mobster Danny Greene did in the '70s, one might expect the inevitable movie bio treatment to be thrilling, crazy, even bleakly funny. But "Kill the Irishman," starring Ray Stevenson as self-professed Celtic warrior Greene, plays instead like an explosion's aftermath: clichéd shards of mob movies that add up to the usual "Goodfellas" knockoff.

Director Jonathan Hensleigh (co-writing with Jeremy Walters) certainly charges through Greene's life — longshoreman's union hero, Italian mafia enforcer, Robin Hood figure, marked man — but at the expense of probing into what made the guy tick. It often feels like there are more car-bomb detonations and snippets of old news footage than dialogue scenes; whenever a date appears onscreen ("March 8, 1975"), you can bet it means boom-boom time rather than talking.

Eventually, Stevenson's Greene becomes a secondary character in his own story, what with the violent high points, trivial narration (by Val Kilmer as an observing lawman) and the array of hammy supporting turns by Vincent D'Onofrio, Christopher Walken, Tony Lo Bianco, Vinnie Jones, Robert Davi, Fionnula Flanagan and Paul Sorvino.

Even a 'stached, barrel-chested slab like Stevenson — who isn't bad, just given short shrift — can get lost in that who's who of gangster mugs.


"Kill the Irishman." MPAA rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. At AMC Loews Broadway 4, Santa Monica.

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