A highly styled 'genre' film which can perhaps be seen as a pastiche of all gangster movies. Tom Reagan is the laconic anti-hero of this amoral tale which is also, paradoxically, a look at morals within the criminal underworld of the 1930s. Two rival gangs vie for control of a city where the police are pawns, and the periodic busts of illicit drinking establishments are no more than a way for one gang to get back at the other. Black humour and shocking violence compete for screen time as we question whether or not Tom, right-hand man of the Irish mob leader, really has a heart. Written by
I was blown away by this film the first time I saw it. After giving myself a couple hours to shake off my dumbfounding amazement, I became addicted. This film has everything. It's witty in its dialogue, suspenseful in its action and violence, beautiful in its cinematography, and (being so like the Coen brothers) it can make you laugh and cringe in the same scene.
The script is superb. The characters are absorbing and the dialogue (as some reviewers have already observed) flows like words in a book. You have to watch some scenes more than once to totally get what's going on, and even then you still might miss something.
The acting is top-notch, even down to the lowest thug. Gabriel Byrne plays the antihero Tom to lonely perfection and Marcia Gay Harden's hooker without a golden heart is excellent. The rest of the cast is great as well, including good mobster Albert Finney and a funny cameo by Steven Buscemi. However, the show is stolen threefold by Jon Polito as the erratic Italian underboss Johnny Caspar, John Tuturro as the slimy "schmatta" Bernie Bernbaum and J.E. Freeman as Caspar's dark, vicious adviser/thug Eddie Dane. Jon Polito's monologue in the very beginning on ethics and Tuturro's desperate pleas at Miller's Crossing are both powerful scenes, and Freeman commands the screen whenever he is on.
My rating is a 10/10. The best part about this movie is that it gets better and better every time you watch it. Oh yeah...the Danny Boy scene is reason enough to watch this movie anyway.
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