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
True story of famous '70's Cleveland based Irish mobster Danny Greene
I've been pretty excited about getting my hands on this film for some time now without knowing very much about it. But watch the trailer and if you're a fan of your 'Goodfellas,' 'Donnie Brasco's and 'Casino's then you'll probably relate.
'Kill The Irishman' has been called the best film since 'Goodfellas' as was stated on the DVD box that came in the mail today. Now all that tells a man to begin with is that the film is the best imitation of 'Goodfellas' there's been since 'Goodfellas' was introduced to cinemas and VHS tapes. Fear not, it is actually good enough to compare to the many times already aforementioned gangster classic and what comes as a surprise is pretty much everything about the film.
Firstly, a synopsis. Danny Greene's story - narrated by Val Kilmer (who lends some heavy support throughout the film) - tells of a tough Irishman working the grain silos at the Cleveland Docks whose rise to infamy begins when he goes to work for the mafia after a jail term for larceny makes headlines due to his muscling in on his former factory boss's business.
Greene is an old fashioned street fighting man who will stand up to anybody and although readily willing to commit crimes to make money, he is an honest and caring man by nature and this quickly endears us to the complex character so easily portrayed by Irish-born up and coming actor Ray Stevenson. I say up and coming but if you're British you'll already know him for television and minor film roles. If you're American you may know him for 'King Arthur', 'Outpost', 'Book of Eli' and 'Punisher: War Zone'.
As events unfold and just as Greene became unhappy with his factory boss, he sees the mafia acting unfairly, abusively and little involved. He declares that he will go into business for himself, meaning that he will inevitably have to declare war on the Italian mafia.
Naturally, what follows is the titular plot; the mafia attempting and failing over the duration of many years to hit the unflappable Irishman as he goes to great lengths to rub it in their faces and get revenge where necessary.
The film, based mostly in Cleveland throughout post-war '70's America, looks and feels authentic but it is the strong, earthy Irish charm that sets it apart from all those old classic I-tallian-American gangster films and a style of film-making that sometimes takes you back even as far as the forties for its occasionally rich film-noir texture.
What I find amazing because this is actually no huge Hollywood film is that 'Kill The Irishman' boasts a hugely classic cast including Val Kilmer (Heat), Christopher Walken (explanation???), Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) and Robert Davi (Die Hard and The Goonies) to name a few. They're all very admirably cast in familiar roles, some unfamiliar which works in favour of plot tiwsts, and help to endear us towards a film that is actually very down to earth and sometimes even hilarious for a such a darkly toned crime drama.
What surprised me the most is the link I made earlier on as I looked over the cast and crew of the film. Ray Stevenson (the last man to portray killer ex-military vigilante Frank Castle AKA The Punisher) being directed as the film's lead by Jonathan Hensleigh, director of the 2004 Thomas Jane version of The Punisher. And the team works brilliantly. Hensleigh who I associated with slow and simplistic storytelling since the latter has really thrown a curveball with this one and I can't help but wonder; what if Hensleigh had directed Stevenson as the Punisher instead, what kind of comic crime caper would we have gotten then? Kill The Irishman boasts some hilariously offensive dialogue that cannot be mistaken for anything but Irish, the film to me at first glance was authentic and quite realistic and I recommend it to everyone with a fully functioning brain and heart. 'Kill The Irishman' is one of the best dramas on offer at this moment!
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