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MOVIE REVIEW: Kill the Irishman

Christopher Walken, Vincent D'Onofrio, Val Kilmer, and lots of Sopranos

  • Ray Stephenson as Danny Greenez in "Kill the Irishman."
  • Kill the Irishman
  • Ray Stephenson as Danny Greenez in "Kill the Irishman."
  • Val Kilmer as Joe Manditski in "Kill the Irishman."
  • Christopher Walken as Shondor Birns in "Kill the Irishman."
  • (L) Vincent D'Onofrio as John Nardi in "Kill the Irishman."
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Since I hated White Irish Drinkers from a few weeks ago, I was hoping for some luck of the Irish with Kill the Irishman. Both movies deal with Irishmen, take place in the 70s, use songs I’ve never heard of (that aren’t from the 70s but sound like they are), but this one is about the mob scene in Cleveland. It’s not just tire factories they have in Ohio.

This is the true story of the turf wars between the Italians and Danny Greene, a former union boss that, after smacking around Bob Gunton, goes down the wrong path. This movie had everything a mob movie needs; three actors that were in the best mob movie ever made – Goodfellas (sorry Godfather fans). That includes Mike Starr, Paul Sorvino, and Tony Darrow.

Darrow was also in The Sopranos, as was Steve Schirripa. It had Val Kilmer playing yet another cop.Christopher Walken has played a mob guy (True Romance), and it’s fun to hear him talk about beef stroganoff and Marilyn Monroe. One of the most versatile actors, Vince D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket), seems to have a blast in the role.

Oh, and speaking of blasts…it seemed to want to top the mob movies with the most car explosions (and buildings) of any film you’ll ever see. Those explosions and a few other scenes often telegraphed scenes we were watching.

Some of the other mob movie moments it had:

  • Not ratting people out and getting respect, check.
  • Ethnic slurs used, check
  • Cars blowing up after the radio starts acting funny, check
  • Crime boss being picked on as a kid, check
  • Crime boss showing a strong work ethic early in life, check
  • Woman waiting outside the place crime boss works in early days (usually a factor), check
  • Crime boss well educated (always with a book in hand), check

Ray Stevenson was well cast as Danny Greene, and I like the fact that he’s not the most charismatic guy. I think sometimes mob movies glamorize these guys and in reality, they’re just big thugs. The real Henry Hill (character Ray Liotta played in Goodfellas) probably wasn’t as savvy, but was more like the paranoid drug addict later in the film.

Writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh didn’t give the most interesting story; he’s the screenwriter ofDie Hard: With a Vengeance, Jumanji, The Saint, The Rock, Con Air, Gone in Sixty Seconds, and Armageddon, so maybe I should be happy the movie was entertaining.

I’m giving it a C-.