Killing Bono (2011)
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What Killing Bono has; despite some overly clever writing and some narrative boondoggles, is a cast of young talented actors with fresh faces and I still, after forty years of watching and writing about movies, I can STILL be enthralled by an actors performance.
Ingmar Bergman said that the human face has everything you need for a camera subject. Many people look to the grizzled faces of Clint Eastwood or later Gary Cooper films to find a long, rough life etched in flesh.
But they were young once. Footage of the young creamy Clint Eastwood and the dreamy Gary Cooper are just as expressive as their older faces are, albeit in a different way.
Same thing with Ben Barnes and Robert Sheehan. Who knows what they will look like forty years from now, but who cares when they look so good in 2012!
Killing Bono has a humorous edge to it that is also quite dramatic, as opposed to the other way round. I think this confuses some people.
I almost think critics were hoping for some kind of critical take on the exigencies of stardom and the portentousness of people who have become successful in one field and then think this gives them credibility in another.
Rock stars are not alone in this.
Just look at all the rich idiots who think because they made a lot of money in some business or other, this gives them the skills needed to serve as the President.
Well, it doesn't.
In fact, I would say success in some crooked business is a drawback. You can't govern those whom you despise.
Still director Nick Hamm has made a film that looks very good despite its small budget and while it may go over the top here and there, it is still wonderful fun and then there are the actors, who are all good.
Especially Pete Poselthwaite in his last film role playing the gay landlord for the boys in the band who is a lecherous old coot. He gives me hope that I can still successfully pinch young bums when I am in my dotage.
When was the last time any film gave you that kind of wonderful hope?
KILLING BONO is based on the memoirs of Neil McCormack and tells the story of McCormack and his brother Ivan . Neil and Ivan want to start a band and when Paul Hewson front-man of a band called The Hype asks Neil if his younger brother wants to join The Hype Neil refuses because they're brothers and their band is going to be the biggest band in the world . Paul Hewson changed his name to Bono and The Hype to U2 and Neil spends the next eleven years becoming more and more bitter at the band's success as his own plans for fame and fortune hit dead ends
There's a few good points to the movie . The incidental music does mirror that of U2 and there's a few performances worthy of mention such Peter Serafinowicz as coke head manager Hammond , . Pete Postlewaite in an under used role as the camp homosexual landlord Karl and Stanley Townsend as violent gangster Danny Machin though to be honest Townsend is often let down by the screenplay
In fact the whole film is let down by the screenplay . It's very difficult to believe there's a lot of truth in it because Neil McCormack must be a real life inversion of Jamal Malik from SLUMDOG MILLIONIARE . Every plan he comes up with seems so cursed by bad luck that karma must have it in for him . Either that or he must be the most stupid person to have ever lived . Considering he has the intellect to write a memoir one can't help thinking there's a massive amount of artistic license involved . Take for example the scene in the Dublin toilet with Neil and Ivan where someone drops a gun only to have another character put two and two together verbally which is overheard by a third character leading ... well let's just say it's too contrived to be taken at face value if someone says it's true
There's also the problem as to who the film will appeal to . My cinema visit had a small handful of people not much younger than me .who probably grew up with the band and therefore could get the in jokes . If they were die hard fans like me then they'd be able to spot massive anachronisms such as Boy being released at the same time as the Pope's visit . Boy was in fact released a year after the Pope's visit to Ireland . Likewise Dead And Alive's You Spin Me Round wouldn't be playing in a Bohemian nightclub at the time of release of War in March 1983 and who would have booked a concert for their band on the day of Live Aid in July 1985 ? A stupid person ? One suffering from bad karma ? Or most likely a person being economical with the truth . The truth is anyone who saw the concert live knew well in advance it was going to the legendary event it's remembered for
KILLING BONO is a fair film . It isn't going to be a massive success and one wonders if it might have worked better if THE COMMITMENTS where quixotic plans of making it big in the music world still in the public consciousness . It also suffers from the feel that it's made for TV a major problem with many Brit movies and will probably be remembered for being the final movie of Pete Postlewaite
Nevertheless, i was presented with a great surprise! It's a really funny movie with some drama in it but overall it tells the story of anyone who was in a band i tried their luck into success. he competing with Bono only makes it more fun. The Soundtrack is awesome. Ben Barnes and Robert Sheehan actually sing most songs in the movie and they do a terrific work!
If you like music or ever been in a band i really recommend this movie. If not, it's still a funny story and a good adventure to watch, even if it is only for the soundtrack.
Release: 1st April 2011 The best scene in Killing Bono has to be the opening scene where we see Ben Barnes, in his character Neil McCormick, narrates a brief of what the story of Killing Bono is about without directly looking at the camera. At another point in the film, it proves significant and you would figure out why I thought it was the best scene.
The coming-of-age story features brothers Neil and Ivan McCormick (Robert Sheehan) who attempt to break into the music industry and when attempting, they look up to their secondary school friends U2 as they become an extremely popular band.
The good bits: This perspective of U2, one of the most successful bands ever, from brothers that are unheard of is one that U2 fans are recommended to view as they'll learn some more about their favourite band's history. The acting from Sheehan and Barnes is convincing, particularly from Barnes who possesses a strong Irish accent in this film despite being an English actor. This story is very intriguing. It grips you, especially in the scenes where there's a conflict, so it doesn't make sure that you'll be heading for the exits at any time. There are no useless scenes the film contains a lot in the two hours that it spans in, and all the scenes fill in the time rather than waste it. The late Pete Postlethwaite made his last appearance in this film. The film has some messages in life that the characters come to realise. Life's too short to be dreaming about success, go ahead and go for it. Compared to Hamm's last film, Godsend, this is a superior effort from the director.
The bad bits: It'll appeal to U2 fans but it does not have any of their music as the film mainly focuses on the McCormick's so that may disappoint some. The film strikes an uneven balance between comedy and drama. One moment makes the audience laugh and the next changes the tone completely. A lot of the second half is serious drama. It doesn't have an emotional core. There's a character that, thanks to his actions, would be more likely to be looked at with pity rather than sympathy during his bad times. Unlike most bio-pics, don't expect to be inspired by the end. Making a film revolved around unknown real life figures will probably not grab many people's attention so Killing Bono is unlikely to be successful.
Verdict: It doesn't go without its flaws and isn't anything outstanding but Killing Bono is an interesting, entertaining, and sometimes funny film. I was surprised to see that it was actually a good film.
Check out more of Musanna's Film Reviews @ musannaahmed.blogspot.com
The Bad: Robert Sheehan where do I start. His acting is disastrous, he looks the part but does not fully convince the audience that he is Barnes brother in the film comes across as a annoying sidekick friend more so than struggling musician.Unlike Barnes, Sheehan has never convincingly played a character without a Irish accent so Sheehan take a note from Barnes. The story as a synopsis had so much potential to be great but promised more than it delivered, on a side-note the trailer for the film makes it seem epic and exciting this is far from what is presented in the film
Overall: Forgettable, there are better films don't waste your money or time
In case you don't know what is it about, let me repost the plot: "Two brothers attempt to become global rock stars but can only look on as old school friends U2 become the biggest band in the world."
Story is the best part of this movie. Throughout it's entire length I was wondering which way will it go. Will it keep it's mild comedy tone from start to the end, or will it turn to tragedy, given the main character's auto-destructive nature ... or maybe, could it even have some alternative history ending like in "Inglorious Bastards" ? Well, it could have gone either way, and because I don't wanna spoil anything for you, I'll just say I'm most satisfied how it finished.
Also, I have nothing but praises for the cast. Ben Barnes... I'm surprised you still aren't big thing in Hollywood. Weekest link might only be his on-screen brother, the guy with curly hair, but he's not bad enough to ruin the movie ... go watch !
The film is based on rock critic Neil McCormick's book, I Was Bono's Doppelgänger. It tells the true-ish story of Dublin-born Neil and his brother Ivan trying to make it in pop and/or rock while continually being overshadowed by their former schoolfriends Paul Hewson and Dave Evans otherwise known as Bono and The Edge, whose band The Hype later becomes U2 and conquers the world, while Neil and Ivan scrape by in a dingy flat in London where their numerous record company rejection letters are pinned to the wall in the shape of the word 'WANKERS'.
The trouble is that in turning U2 into the barometer by which he measures and gets miserable about his own rubbishness, McCormick's book and now celluloid life story make Bono a saintly, inscrutably good, otherworldly figure. Bono (Martin McCann) floats through the movie in a Christ-like fashion, always impeccably turned out, voice calm, never saying words like 'bollox' or 'shite' as his schoolmates and the McCormicks do. He does, however, eat chips at one point, which is a kind of shocking image.
It is entirely feasible, of course, that Bono really was like this: aloof, pure, pompous. That would not come as a surprise to anyone who has seen footage of Bono performing in the Eighties, with his big hair, high heels, and breathy, strangely American-accented mini-speeches about uprisings in Soweto (good) or uprisings in Northern Ireland (bad). Yet in investing Bono with an ethereal quality, in making him the yin to McCormick's yang, the movie comes across less like a rock biopic than as a conservative morality tale stuffed with righteous seers and wayward scallywags. Bono effectively saves the McCormick brothers, with a speech in the back of a limousine about brotherly love, in a not dissimilar fashion to the way Christ rescued James and John from a life of fishery.
The mythologising extends to the way U2's music is presented. They're depicted as the heirs to punk, bashing out Iggy Pop songs in a garage before going on to conquer and colonise a bland pop landscape with heartfelt music. In truth, far from being the punks of the Eighties, U2 were the equivalent of those Seventies Po-faced prog rock bands that punk eventually swept aside. U2's own comeuppance came towards the end of the Eighties when, after a decade of thrilling ageing rock critics and Americans but boring the rest of us rigid with their sweeping and serious guitar songs, they were elbowed aside by the rebirth of pop hedonism: rave, acid, baggy, whose adherents didn't go to gigs to learn about Nelson Mandela but to get smashed.
U2's out-of-touchness was brilliantly illustrated by their release in 1988 of the film and album Rattle and Hum, their most worthy dose of blackish, bluesy, Elvisy Americana to date, at a time when the kidz were knocking back Es and dancing like mental patients. 'Bombastic and misguided', said one critic of Rattle and Hum. 'Pretentious', said the rest. And of course U2 only made things worse when they tried to recover by releasing the electronic dance-inspired Achtung, Baby! in 1991. It was as if Jethro Tull had tried to play 'Pretty Vacant'. Just as the punks cheered upon hearing of the death of the fat, bloated Elvis in 1977, so some young 'electro rockers' today wish for the death of Bono.
It really is only a handful of serious rock critics who still treat U2 seriously, fantasising that they are 'real' where most others are fake. As a result, Killing Bono, the life and times of a rock critic in the making, ends up being deeply conservative. Part On The Buses, part Rattle and Hum, it combines slapstick humour with Bono sanctification to tell a pretty warped story about both U2 and the Eighties.
Killing Bono is the true-ish story of two Irish brothers who knew U2 front-man, Bono, in school and wanted to rival him in musical skill and talent. That they weren't really any good doesn't register with them as they believe Bono is simply stealing all of their hype and thunder ... so not only do the brother-duo fail on the musical front they fail on the cinematic one as well as they are annoying characters who just don't know when to shut-up or stop.
Rivalries always have some potential for some decent stories; but luck just isn't on these Irish brothers' side(s) as they don't ever come across as ones we'd root or feel for. Bono IS better ... deal with it and find something else to do. They are the 80's Irish Winklevii (they were okay but others were much better ... and that's that!).
I do think Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father, The Town, Inception) deserves a shout-out here! He is better than this movie and he is a TALENT that will be missed.
"Killing Bono" should be a life lesson for a lot of people. It certainly was for me.
Too bad the movie was going great with their struggles about trying to make it as a band. A few nude scenes and party scenes to brighten up the story, But if this story is about trying to make it as a band, a logical person would take a gig like,.. I dunno.. Opening up for U2 !!! I felt a shame for this character's poor decisions and to think that this person holds a grudge against Bono (or the story's premiss), He cant blame anybody else but himself.
If this is a real story, then they should rename their band for "Natural Selection". Because they are the reason for being non existent today..
Perhaps in the future I will go and watch the rest of the movie, (on Netflix) whenever i have time.
Besides that, I loved Adams hair fro, the music was getting better,.. and it was nice to see the historical timelime.
The music is a big element to this film and it's done very well, it represents an early "U2" without going too much into what they're now more well-known for and showcases music by "Shook Up!" that sounds just as good as U2's. You can definitely hear the bands are starting to create their own sound with great execution and makes you love both bands so much. The acting is superb on everyone's part, not a single beat is missed which makes the comedic elements break the much needed tension from the character's failure. The environment accurately depicts living in the early 80's in an emerging European rock scene while the camera work is used to really bring out the energy in the concert scenes to great perfection making you feel like you missed a great show.
Overall, I related to this movie in the sense that we all have dreams. Whether big or small you want to try everything in your power to achieve them even if it takes a lifetime. I felt that this character did have a gift but had so much bad luck from the beginning that he was destined for failure. The envy he felt for his friend could've been transformed into positive energy to maybe learn from him and even be greater than him, but we'll never know and never will.
As always, I'll start this review with info on the film. Killing Bono was a movie released in 2011 and was based on Neil McCormick's 2003 memoir 'Killing Bono: I Was Bono's Doppelgänger.' It was shot in Northern Ireland, funded by Northern Ireland Screen and was released by Paramount Pictures. Directed by Nick Hamm plus, the cast included some great young, upcoming talent in Ben Barnes and Robert Sheehan. In a nutshell, Killing Bono is a rock 'n' roll comedy about two Northern Irish brothers trying and struggling to forge their path through the 1980's music scene. At the same time, their old school friends successfully add their band name in the history of British rockers, their name being U2. Plunging the brothers' band deeper and deeper into the shadows, just like the thousands of other musicians that didn't make it. It has a great story: ambition, ego and the comedy of the 80's music scene all blended together. It's all told in an authentic, light-hearted way by director Hamm, who brings out the best in Barnes and Sheehan. The film overall is enjoyable and the main storyline- continuing dreams of stardom even when they remain out of reach-are hauntingly familiar for some. So it relates to many people well, but in my opinion it needs more funding to transform onto the big screen, although it does well considering the budget. If you're a British music fan or if you want an easy way to tell your kids it's not easy making it in the music industry I highly recommend this film, make sure your children have a working knowledge of U2 beforehand though. RATING: 7.3/10
Best parts: The making of 'Bono' and 'The Edge' The "it's the Pope, or me" speech The ending-I won't spoil it
Maybe it's Ben Barnes' charming portrayal of the loser (a bit like John Ritter's charming loser character Jack Tripper on "Three's Company"), maybe it's the wonderfully acidic script, maybe it's the parade of lovably bizarre characters, or maybe it's the suspense of wanting to know if he actually does kill Bono, as the title & opening flash-forward scene tease us. Whatever it is, something about this film will keep you interested & entertained until the very second the end credits roll.
Loosely, very loosely based on the memoirs of Bono's 70s school chum and rival rockstar Neil McCormick, this film depicts some true events such as the anemic rise of Neil's 80s pop band "Shook Up!" (they weren't half bad, check out their videos on youtube) and some not-so-true events that really spice things up in the third act. But since this is a comedy, the fictionalizations are strangely believable if not central to the point of the movie.
"This is not a true story. It is crucial to say that," says director Nick Hamm in the DVD bonus featurette. "You can be real to the story you're telling, but your story doesn't have to be real."
The real Neil McCormick, when asked about the fictional aspects, sheepishly approved: "We all fictionalise ourselves ... I created a version of myself to suit my book ... Now, someone has created an alternative version. As a deluded, fame-obsessed young man, of course, I never doubted that one day someone would make a film of my life. It just never occurred to me it would be a comedy."
That it is. A brilliant & entertaining comedy with a compelling theme driving it. Not many comedies have been able to portray the story of a loser in a fun, vibrant way. But if you're familiar with the obscure gems "Buffalo 66", the documentary "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" or the Aussie rocker "Garage Days", you'll have an idea of the treat you have in store here.
A final note about the music: I think it features only one U2 song ("Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"), but there are some atmospheric bits that sound hauntingly like U2. There's one song by Neil's band Shook Up! entitled "Stop the World", and most of the other songs seem to be new compositions (or new versions) that actually feature Ben Barnes singing. U2 fans may be disappointed because this is not a movie about U2, although it revolves closely around them. In that respect it's a lot like another great comedy "Grand Theft Parsons" about famed singer Gram Parsons' good friend who decides to steal Gram's body after his death.
"Killing Bono" is a creatively-told fiction that flirts with truth but ultimately takes us in the opposite direction. Hey, this formula worked in "Amadeus" (Mozart), "Immortal Beloved" (Beethoven) and "Impromptu" (Chopin). Sure, why not Bono?