Kill the Irishman Review

Published 4 years ago by

Kill The Irishman Danny Greene Ray Stevenson Kill the Irishman Review

Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews Kill The Irishman

Kill the Irishman is pretty much your standard mobster biopic, minus the flair that you get with a director like Martin Scorsese. Writer/Director Jonathan Hensleigh  has always been a solid talent with the pen (see: The Saint, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Jumanji) as well as behind the camera (see: The Punisher) – though I would be hesitant to call any of his work in either capacity “great.”

As such, Kill the Irishman is a solid but formulaic look at a real-life crime figure; the leading performance is simply “solid” as well. In fact, the only thing that keeps Kill the Irishman from being totally forgettable are the slew of fun cameo appearances by icons of the mobster movie genre.

The film chronicles the story of real-life crime figure Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson), a stout and proud Irishman living in Cleveland in the 1970s. Danny starts out as a tireless dock worker, but soon finds himself veering into the lane of organized crime. He takes over a local union via deals with Italian mob boss John Nardi (Vincent D’Onofrio), and is soon catapulted to new heights of power and infamy. Of course, with those “rewards” comes exposure to all the consequences and dangers that go with Danny’s new way life – including a mob feud that soon turns the Cleveland streets into a war zone.

As stated, everything about Kill the Irishman is solid. The script – written by Hensleigh and Jeremy Walters, based on the book “To Kill the Irishman” by Rick Porrello – is your standard mobster tale: average guy wants more from life, gets into crime, everything is great at first, then the setbacks start, friends and family are lost/estranged, the noose tightens…and you can guess the end. Like many of the films Hensleigh writes, the narrative structure of Kill the Irishman follows the three-act formula to a “t”; whether you’re familiar with the story of Danny Greene or not, with this film you’re pretty much in store for a two-hour journey to get exactly where you already know you’re headed.

Kill The Irishman Danny Greene Gang Kill the Irishman Review

Like his scripts, Hensleigh’s direction is competent, but not at all refreshing or masterful -  he’s not really a sophisticated visual storyteller. The movie is able to competently convey what happens from moment to moment – whether it is action or drama – but there isn’t really any deeper level of visual metaphor, motifs or style. Again, for those content with point-and-shoot directorial style, this film will be sufficient – cinephilles with more sophisticated pallattes will likely not be impressed.

Finally, there are the performances. Ray Stevenson is a guy who, like his director, is consistently solid but never really great. He has great leading man presence in films like Punisher: War Zone or as a fierce soldier in HBO’s Rome – but like both those previous roles, in Kill the Irishman Stevenson is simply playing the warrior type with a soft heart that seems to be his only trademark. In fact, in one scene alongside Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan (Lost, Four Brothers), Danny Greene is flat-out described as a…warrior type with a soft heart. Go figure. Meanwhile, Vincent D’Onofrio is acting circles around his costar, playing John Nardi as a guy so unrepentantly sociopathic that it’s genuinely funny.

Kill The Irishman Christopher Walken Kill the Irishman Review

As I said, the only real factor which elevates Kill the Irishman above the hundreds of mobster tales just like it are the slew of cameo appearances in the film. You have legends like Christopher Walken, Paul Sorvino and Tony Lo Bianco (The French Connection) all popping up to do riffs on their greatest mobster roles; familiar wise and/or tough guys like Vinnie Jones (Snatch), Tony Darrow (Goodfellas), Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos), Vinny Vella (Casino), Mike Starr (Goodfellas, Dumb and Dumber) and even Robert Davi (The Goonies) all dusting off their guns; even the non-mobster roles are filled with familiar faces like Bob Gunton (The Shawshank Redemption), Linda Cardellini (ER), Laura Ramsey (The Ruins) and a portly Val Kilmer as the cop who grew up with Danny Greene and chronicles his rise and fall as the film’s narrator.

The supporting cast – specifically the mobsters – all seem to be having a good time, with their tongues placed ever so lightly against their cheeks. Who knows what favors Hensleigh and Co. called on to draw so many notable names to this type of lackluster fare, but their colorful performances offer some balance to the blandness of the script, direction and leading man, making Kill the Irishman at least somewhat fun.

In the end, this is one you could rent at home on demand and be just as happy you missed it in the theater. The film is currently in limited release.

Watch the trailer for Kill the Irishman to help you make up your mind:

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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  1. Ok, that looks RAD. Yeah that’s right I said RAD lol.

  2. As long as you tell me it isnt the Scorseci brand of mob films, I am sick and tired of his love affair with mobsters then I can give it a chance.

    • @Aleric-Assuming you are speaking of Scorsese, I am curious as to what “brand” of mobster films you prefer.

  3. I never even heard of this movie. Not being a fan of mob films (actually, I despise them), I probably wouldn’t have even seen this film even if Kofi gave it a 5 star review.

  4. With all due respect, I wholeheartedly disagree. I’ve seen it twice and loved it. This is a true story set in Cleveland. It’s gritty, it’s got excellent character depth. Ray Stevenson makes the character larger than life which adds to the audience getting pulled into what all Danny’s friends did. His conflict between right and wrong coming from a soft hearted Irishman.
    Give it a chance folks. 5 stars here

    • “It’s gritty, it’s got excellent character depth.”

      EHHH…I would say the main character was basically a one trick pony. He starts out as criminal, briefly says “I’VE CHANGED…,” then dies as a criminal. Ray Stevenson is a great actor and was brilliant in “Rome” as the lovable and deeply flawed Titus Pullo, but in this movie we see him desperately try to bring something into a character that is supported by the film’s plot. The script was sorely lacking, so you’re off the hook this time, Pullo.

      And Christopher Walken. What a crafty man he is, only appearing for less than an hour and then blowing up in dramatic fashion. Walken was the only ace this movie had in terms of appeal; once he was dust I failed to have any motivation to care.

  5. Being a former Clevelander, who lived within the life portrayed in movie, it was a memory of days gone by, that was emotionally accurate, real. In my lifetime (74), this film was closest to my remembering home. I met these people, my brother was at the dentist in Lynhurst at Dammy’s end. If truth and history of the times, means anything in movies this one gets a double A plus. It has love interest, adventure, violence, scheming, truth, history. It’s the best 1 hour 40 minutes I spend in a theater in years. If entertainment has personal meaning, this one was for me. Bravo!

  6. Hey,Kofi

    I really think your rant about this film is incorrect,…I believe its the irish version of true grit not the most recent one the one in 1950 where john wayne stared in (if you ever seen this movie)….and the irony of you to give two stars and say you saw it twice, i saw it more then twice and loved this movie…so give where credit is due and give this film what it deserves young man and thats 5 stars!!!!

    to everyone else this is a must see flick!!!!!

  7. This movie STUNK. Every boring cliche was in it. Laughable.

  8. Duh, of course it stunk. It was produced by Tara Reid’s brother. When is the last time anything came from anything connected to her?

  9. this movie was awsome better than most mob films

  10. This film does not appear to have been shot in Cleveland although I did recognize some of the landscape, or establishment shots. Most of the cars in the film appeared to be Canadian?

    • This movie was shot in Detroit. The street scenes are instantly recognizable.

  11. film appears to have been shot in Canada?

  12. This movie was actually much better than I thought it would be! Watched it on Netflix so I wasn’t out anything if it wasn’t good!!