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Michael Collins
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Reviews & Ratings for
Michael Collins More at IMDbPro »

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35 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

A great movie

Author: MrVibrating from Sweden
4 September 2006

This movie is an excellent portrayal of the brutal and often non-conventional Irish freedom struggle. The movie has several great strengths. The biggest strength is Liam Neeson in his tour-de-force. His acting in this movie is as good as it gets. His personality changes subtly throughout the movie, becoming increasingly affected by the changes of the world around him. The supporting cast is also excellent, with Rickman in one of his best roles.

Cinematography is very nice, capturing everything from the hopelessness of the defeats in the ashy cities to the beauty of the Irish landscapes. The pacing is very good as well.

If you saw this movie with no opinion on the Irish history, you will have one when you leave the theater. This shows to me how powerful this movie is. After all, Michael Collin's tactics were not pretty, everything from car-bombings to mob-style executions. Yet we still care for him, we want him to succeed, even if he himself isn't sure he wants to.

Without it's politics, this movie is still excellent. It's a great piece of movie-making, it's involving, sad, funny and sometimes tense. One of the movies I consider classic.

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44 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Deeply flawed but compelling

Author: poc-1 from Cork, Ireland
6 March 2006

I saw this first in the now defunct Capitol Cineplex in Cork. I was surprised to see so many senior citizens in the cinema. The cineplex was so scummy it had to be something special to draw them in. Some of them might have been old enough to remember the civil war or at least to have had a close family member killed in it. Many of them were clearly moved by it particularly the end with its archive footage. It is a moving film, but you have to be careful.

One should never confuse history with entertainment and this is not a history lesson. All the major events are there, but there is a horrible bias from the director. I don't like DeValera or what he stood for, but what was hinted at the end in this movie is a travesty. If such a thing is true, you have to prove it, you can't slyly hint at it. There are other insidious things such as mortars and car-bombs which are clear reference to the 1970s-90s Northern conflict. Such weapons did not exist in 1916. To me this is an oblique way of implying that the Provos are somehow the legitimate heirs of the IRA in 1916 which of course they are not.

Despite this I enjoyed the movie a lot. The production values and acting was so good, it really felt like a timewarp. Neil Jordan is a great director, Neeson and Rickman are superb in their parts. Rickman looks so much like DeValera it is uncanny. I even liked Julia Roberts. It looks like she made a fair attempt at a Dun Laoghaire accent and of course it sounded phony. Southside Dublin accents all sound phoney to me anyway so I didn't mind. The best moment was the scene where Collins starts the civil war sitting behind a howitzer aimed at the Four Courts and fires. You can see a huge explosion and bits coming out portico. I actually felt scared that they had damaged this famous Dublin landmark. This won't mean much to someone from overseas, but anyone familiar with the Four Courts and the resident lawyers (sorry "barristers") in their eighteenth century costumes would surely enjoy firing an artillery piece at the overpaid clowns. I wish I had a howitzer like that.

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30 out of 40 people found the following review useful:


Author: mswjr from United States
29 March 2008

This is a very touching film. I was shocked to see the IMDb score of 6.8. The only major fault of this film is Julia Roberts. She really takes a wonderful film and turns it down a few notches. She can't keep an Irish accent, switching back and forth with her American accent throughout the duration of the film.

Anyway, Michael Collins is great to watch. The story is heartfelt, and the nuances between personal battles and patriotic duty are displayed in a very mature fashion - - to what extent will you go for your country? What will you lose? Who will you fight? Why will you do any of it? Who are your true friends? etc.

The music is FANTASTIC. Worth renting just for the listen. Of course Neison is great. So is Aidin Quinn (when I first saw this movie I thought Quinn was Irish given his name and his performance here). Alan Rickman is Alan Rickman - - which is great, though he doesn't pull off the Irish thing too well. However, given his character, Eamon de Valera, it isn't really a miscast, just takes time to get in.

If you can ignore how horrible Julia Roberts is and think about the heart and emotion behind this film while enjoying the awesome score you're in for a treat. A jewel in the rough. (my favorites)

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23 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful Cinematography Highlight This Biography

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
26 June 2006

I didn't know if Hollywood was distorting history but someone who knows the story of Michael Collins assured me this was a pretty accurate portrayal of him in here, which makes this film go even higher in my ratings, because it's definitely entertaining and is spectacularly photographed. There is more blue color in here - beautiful blue - than in any movie I've ever seen. It looks just gorgeous on DVD.

Liam Neeson's charismatic portrayal of Collins keeps you riveted to the screen, even though it's a fairly long movie. Julia Roberts and Alan Rickman seemed a bit miscast. Being American and British, respectively, they weren't quite believable as Irishmen, perhaps because I'm used to hearing them as they normally talk. I also don't like to hear the Lord's name in vain so often as what was in here, but that seems commonplace among the Irish, at least in all the movies I've seen and books I've read (and my relatives, half of whom are Irish!)

Anyway, this is a very interesting story with a nice combination of drama, action and romance. Very much recommended regardless of anyone's stance on Irish-English relations.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Liam Neeson powerful

Author: SnoopyStyle
15 May 2016

In 1916 Dublin, Michael Collins (Liam Neeson), Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn), and Éamon de Valera (Alan Rickman) are among the captured rebels in the Easter Rising. After being released, they are politically active. De Valera and the political leadership get arrested. Collins is tipped off by double agent police detective Ned Broy (Stephen Rea). Collins goes into hiding with his best friend Boland. He meets his love Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts). Collins and Boland lead a guerrilla war against the British forces. De Valera takes Boland with him to work diplomatically. Eventually, the Brits relent and De Valera sends Collins to negotiate. Collins returns with home rule and splitting off Northern Ireland with De Valera opposing him. In 1922, the Anglo-Irish Treaty is approved. De Valera and his men resign taking Boland with them. They start their own revolt against the Irish Free State Army headed by Collins.

This is an expansive epic historical drama. Liam Neeson leads this with his powerful presence. He looms over this movie like the leading man that he is. The actors are all great although Julia Roberts does stick out a little. It would have been more fitting to have an Irish lass. The movie does try to fit a lot into two hours. Some of it can feel a bit disjointed. Liam Neeson is big enough to tie it all together. It would also be nice for him to have a constant foil. Whether or not he deserves it historically, the movie seems to make De Valera Collins' foil. It would be great to fully embrace the conflict and give De Valera more screen time. Make this Collins versus De Valera.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Effective recapitulation of Irish struggle for independence but British point of view is sorely lacking

Author: Turfseer from United States
29 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Neil Jordan was at the height of his fame following his great success with "The Crying Game" when he was finally able to convince film investors to fund "Michael Collins," a project which was 10 years in the making. I knew little about the history of the struggle for Irish independence but after seeing this film, it propelled me to do a little research. As a history lesson Michael Collins does well in covering the main historical points but Jordan does little in presenting the British point of view.

The film begins with the Easter Rising of 1916, a violent protest in Dublin which resulted in the defeat and arrest of the leaders amongst the Irish rebels. What Jordan doesn't let on here is that the rebellion was not at all popular with the Irish people and the tide didn't turn until the British executed the majority of the rebels following the rebellion.

Liam Neeson does well in playing Collins as a dynamic, strong character but Collins was around thirty when the events of the film takes place and Neeson was about 14 years older. If you're willing to forgive the age difference, Neeson is quite believable as the fiery Irish leader who is still regarded as a George Washington figure amongst the contemporary Irish populace.

Jordan is at his best when he dispassionately regurgitates the sequence of events that led to the establishment of Ireland as a free state and the resulting civil war. Of particular note are the gripping scenes of escalating violence: Collins is a beaten by the Royal Irish Constabulary after speaking at an election rally; Collins recruits a squad of killers who murder 14 members of the MI5 "Cairo Gang" and the ensuing act of genocidal revenge taken by the "Black and Tans" paramilitary force at a soccer match; the IRA attack on the Custom House which Collins opposed as he knew the British would easily win; the attack on Collins after the treaty with the British, at an anti-Treaty Republican rally; the offensive against the "The Four Courts" by the anti-Treaty side of the IRA, despite Collins' bitter opposition; and the ambush of Collins, resulting in his death.

Also of great interest is the conflict between Collins and Eamon de Valera (played by an effective Alan Rickam) who early on felt that Collins was acting on his own. The actual split between the two leaders is foreshadowed when de Valera goes to meet President Woodrow Wilson in order to gain recognition of the IRA's objectives and takes Collins' best friend and constant companion, Harry Boland, with him. Eventually de Valera orders Collins to negotiate the treaty with the British over his objections that he's not a diplomat. And it was de Valera who split with Collins over the terms of the treaty which broke Ireland into two and still had the new Irish Free State swearing allegiance to the Crown.

What's most fascinating about Collins is that initially he was regarded as a terrorist by the British but after negotiating the treaty between Ireland and the UK, he was now regarded as a "moderate." In fact, during the Irish civil war, the British supplied arms to Collins' forces who eventually defeated the anti-Treaty faction. Jordan argues that Collins' targets were either brutal forces of the British intelligence service or Irish collaborators, not innocent civilians. Whatever the case, Collins, who was yesterday's terrorist now became today's dignified statesman.

Jordan unfortunately leaves out the British side of the story. Instead, they're all evil or supporters of evil. Jordan is not adverse to twisting historical facts to make the British seem worse. The scene of the massacre at the soccer match is exaggerated—no armored vehicle entered the premises and machine gunned people in the stands. A British Court of Inquiry found that the actions of the paramilitary group "was carried out without orders and exceeded the demands of the situation." The commander of the Dublin District stated that "the firing on the crowd was carried out without orders, was indiscriminate, and unjustifiable, with the exception of any shooting which took place inside the enclosure." Nonetheless it was also true that this inquiry was suppressed by the British government. The King of England and some British politicians expressed their horror at the Bloody Sunday massacre and such a public relations disaster did much to strengthen the hand of de Valera's government, eventually leading to the peace treaty between Ireland and England.

The killing of the double agent Irish detective who aided Collins, Ned Broy, also appeared to be designed by Jordan to manipulate the audience into hating the British even more. Broy is actually a composite character of three people. While people were tortured by the British (particularly those who were involved in the assassinations of British intelligence agents on Bloody Sunday), Broy lived well into his 80s.

Jordan's decision to take a few liberties with historical events and characters doesn't seem so bad in light of his overall success in depicting the chronology of events in the Irish fight for independence and its aftermath. Nonetheless, aside from Collins (and perhaps de Valera) most of the other characters in the drama are unremarkable and certainly Julia Roberts has little to do as the love interest between Collins and sideman Boland.

While necessary, after a while, many of the violent goings on in Michael Collins, felt more like a docudrama. Only when the conflict between de Valera and Collins heats up, can one say that the narrative becomes truly compelling. Again what's missing is the British point of view (and perhaps a singular antagonist) which could have added to the efficaciousness of this well staged period piece.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Great historical piece

Author: Maniac-9 from St. Louis, MO
2 February 2012

Anyone interested in history especially that pertaining to how Ireland broke away from the United Kingdom and became it's own country definitely should check out this movie.

Liam Neeson was born to play Michael Collins, can't think of any other actor who would've been appropriate to play this role. Aidan Quinn and Alan Rickman were both also great in their roles. Julia Roberts gets way too much hate for her role in this movie. She was perfectly fine in her role and if anyone else without the attention that she brings had been in that role it wouldn't have gotten all the negative reaction that it had gotten.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Flawed but a good film nonetheless ....

Author: lorraineesimpson from United Kingdom
12 April 2015

What worries me about films based on historical characters and events, is that a lot of people take them at face value and accept them as fact whereas very few of them are completely accurate, and this film is no exception. However, despite the inaccuracies and speculations, it's a good film. Liam Neeson in particular gives a great performance in the title role, really bringing the complexities of the character to life. Rickman is also good as DeValera. Julia Roberts is horribly miscast and I can only think she was in it to boost box office ratings - although I would have hardly thought that necessary with Neeson and Rickman as the main characters. To be fair her character was pretty superfluous anyway and only included to add some romantic interest.

Overall it's worth a watch, although if you really want to know about the British/Irish conflict read a book!

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18 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest films of the past few years

Author: Joe Courtney ( from Manchester, England
23 April 2001

This film is a brilliant account of the life of Michael Collins. It starts with the Easter Rising of 1916 and ends with his death in 1922. Between that time he managed to negotiate the first treaty of Independence for Ireland. Liam Neeson does brilliantly as "the big fella" and Aidan Quinn also is brilliant at portraying Collin's best friend Harry Boland. Apart from these other great stars in the film are Alan Rickman, Stephen Rea, Charles Dance, Ian Hart and Julia Roberts. Unfortunately some events portrayed in the film are historically incorrect and you get the feeling they were only included to add more drama to the film.

This is definetly a film worth watching and the DVD is even better, featuring a documentary on the real Michael Collins.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

He carried a gun to stop violence.

Author: mark.waltz from United States
2 March 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In one of his truly humble moments, the title character (Liam Neeson) explains it goes beyond the brutality of the British, the denial of rights and the non-stop mistreatment. It's about the fact that he had to put a gun in a young man's hand, the fact that violence he realized was the only way to end all violence. Fighting fire with fire, so it seems, and this story of the fight for an Irish republic in 1916 is an example for the fight to ensure oppression. It's bloody and blunt, a sweeping epic, and lightly romantic. While I could not attest to the truth of everything I see on screen, it's extremely cinematic, and probably the best film I've seen on the British and Irish conflicts.

Liam Neeson is probably one of the greatest actors to come out of Ireland, and having seen him in several plays on Broadway can say he's not only handsome, but sensually masculine, a trait that you notice more on screen that explodes on stage when it is noticeably apparent. As Michael Collins, Neeson is philosophical and profound, romantic and loyal, tender yet masculine. He's a man standing by his ideals, willing to loose his life if it makes an impact. He's surrounded by the most incredible cast within the movement, including Stephen Rea (reunited with director Neil Jordan after "The Crying Game"), Aidan Quinn and Alan Rickman. As for Julia Roberts, I did hear her loose her Irish accent a couple of times, but mostly, she stays in character.

I would have to research this subject really closely to understand all of the political and social in's and out's of the conflict, but this indicates that it went back centuries and would continue. So I can just examine this from my little knowledge of the subject, and it rings true. Sometimes a bit too true, with tortures presented grimly and sudden attacks from both sides spilling blood into the streets and the last moments of a man's life presented with the horror of the knowledge of impending assassination. It's both heartbreaking, regardless of what side is being killed, and historically important, especially in an era of extremely divided politics that is further dividing the world and chewing up its soul. The moments I will not forget are the ones where I barely breathe watching this, transfixed to the screen by the thought that this could easily happen again... Anytime, anywhere.

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