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The General (1998)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  18 December 1998 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,258 users  
Reviews: 49 user | 52 critic

The real-life story of Dublin folk hero and criminal Martin Cahill, who pulled off two daring robberies in Ireland with his team, but attracted unwanted attention from the police, the IRA, the UVF and members of his own team.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Gary
...
...
...
Inspector Ned Kenny
Eanna MacLiam ...
Jimmy
Tom Murphy ...
Willie Byrne
...
Anthony
...
Paddy
John O'Toole ...
Shea
Ciarán Fitzgerald ...
Tommy
...
Gay
Vinny Murphy ...
Harry (as Vinnie Murphy)
Roxanna Nic Liam ...
Orla (as Roxanna Williams)
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Storyline

The real-life story of Dublin folk hero and criminal Martin Cahill, who pulled off two daring robberies in Ireland with his team, but attracted unwanted attention from the police, the IRA, the UVF and members of his own team.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He was a world-class criminal and a working-class hero. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and pervasive language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

18 December 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Once Had a Life  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£286,365 (UK) (29 May 1998)

Gross:

$1,211,865 (USA) (21 May 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The home of director John Boorman was robbed by the real life Martin Cahill. Among other things, he stole a gold record that Boorman had on the wall, which inspired Boorman to include that scene in the movie. See more »

Goofs

After the robbery of the Thomas O'Connor and Sons jewelry manufacturing plant, which occurred in 1983, the van that pulled into the garage with the stolen goods had a license plate with the number 93 D 25920. Under the Irish vehicle licensing system, the 93 at the beginning of the license plate number identifies the model year of the vehicle. There would not have been such a plate number in 1983. See more »

Quotes

Frances: [referring to her sister] Why do go around and see Tina? I don't mind.
See more »

Connections

Remade as Vicious Circle (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Another accomplished performance by Brendan Gleeson, Ireland's Depardieu
28 July 2000 | by (Belfast, Northern Ireland) – See all my reviews

John Boorman's 'The General' was always going to be a controversial movie and a tough sell for its filmmakers.

It's anti-hero, Martin Cahill was Ireland's most infamous criminal of recent times - so much so that there has been four screen depictions of him (Ken Stott in The Vicious Circle, Kevin Spacey in Ordinary Decent Criminal, Pete Postlethwaite in When The Sky Falls and Brendan Gleeson in The General).

He was guilty of some of the country's most outrageous crimes and capable of real brutality - most notably, injuring a forensic scientist in a car bomb and literally nailing one of his gang members to the floor.

Add into the mix the fact that the film has a largely Irish cast deploying thick Dublin accents and that Boorman chose to shoot it in black and white and you have a movie which wasn't exactly going to jump out at international and especially, US audiences demanding to be loved.

The result is perhaps Boorman's finest work, certainly on a par with the wonderful 'Hope and Glory'.

The film is also by a furlong the best of the four movies depicting Cahill's life.

This is in large part due to the brilliant performance of Irish actor, Brendan Gleeson in the central role.

The Irish Depardieu not only physically transforms himself into Cahill but captures the rebellious spirit, the intelligence and the charm.

It would have been easy to depict Cahill as a monster.

However, Gleeson and Boorman treat their audience with respect, building up a character with shades of darkness and light.

On one hand, viewers are given an appreciation of how "The General" was able to command the love of two sisters, his children and the adulation of his criminal associates.

However, Boorman's film is certainly no love letter to Cahill. We also see his sadistic side as in the bombing of the forensic scientist's car and crucifixion of one of his gang members, his lack of consideration and compassion for the 100 workers laid off at a storeroom he has robbed, his cold bargaining with the sexually abused daughter of one of his gang members.

The supporting cast also put in fine performances too.

Jon Voight not only masters the rural Irish brogue of the Garda (police) inspector bedevilled by Cahill but also the attitudes. It is a tough but ultimately sympathetic performance of a cop dragged unwillingly into the gutter.

Maria Doyle Kennedy and Angeline Ball give charming performances as the sisters who were also the women in Cahill's rather unorthodox life, with Ciaran Fitzgerald also making a sympathetic son.

Adrian Dunbar, Sean McGinley and Eanna MacLiam all put in spirited performances as members of Cahill's gang. McGinley, in particular, creates another memorably seedy performance as Gary.

Special mention should also go to Pat Laffan as a brutish Garda sergeant.

With it's cracking script, Richie Buckley's musical score and the black and white camerawork, 'The General' is easily up there with the best of modern movies made in Ireland (certainly, up there with Neil Jordan's 'The Butcher Boy' and Alan Parker's 'The Commitments').

It is a must see - a film which demands cult status.


16 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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