The true story of Danny Greene, an impoverished but charismatic young Irish-American who rises to power as president of the longshoreman's local union and is charged with corruption but evades serious jail time by becoming an FBI informant. With fearless nerve he joins forces with a Mafia gangster to rise to power in Cleveland's underworld, gaining the reputation of a Robin Hood-like figure with nine lives as he escapes countless assassination attempts. Written by
It doesn't take much research into the real story of Danny Greene and the Cleveland mob war to recognize that there was potentially a great Mobster movie waiting to be made. This film misses the mark, which is sad, because the players were there to craft something special.
The downfall of this film is the script and the way it rushes through time and space without ever focusing enough on the characters and their relationship with each other (and in the case of Greene with society) to really get us connected into the world they inhabit. We see scene after scene that remind us gangster movie staples. Greene beaten by Italian kids as a boy, Greene standing up to the crooked Union leadership, Greene making deals with the mafia, Greene gets a girl and they wind up married, Greene beats up bikers, Greene gets a partner out of hot water and tells him never to gamble again...and duh..he gambles again. Unfortunately, we always stay on the surface of people's motivations as these scenes fly by, we never stop and get a sense of why with the characters. And we never connect with them.
The acting is fine, Ray Stevenson's Greene is tough and smart and world-worn, everyone else is fine but they just stay on the periphery and play stock characters who come and go for the most part.
If the script had made a choice to either be the story through the eyes of Val Kilmer's Cleveland police detective, or the story through the eyes of Irish Danny Greene, instead of just a linear montage of standard gangster film clichés, we all could have been treated to a top-notch tale.
The movie just proves you need a great script to make a great movie, and it didn't have one.
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