Kill the Irishman [Blu-Ray] Jonathan Hensleigh

Kill the Irishman [Blu-Ray] Jonathan Hensleigh
I find it hard to identify with, or care about, organized criminals that use murder as a way of resolving conflict. It's not that I'm particularly keen on the status quo or mindless assimilation, but it takes a particularly exaggerated form of solipsism to just up and kill people when they don't adhere to your needs. Perhaps this is why a straightforward gangster biopic like Kill the Irishman leaves me feeling nothing but minor annoyance and loathing, seeing as it never takes a single opportunity to step back and assess its morality beyond the occasional disappointed stare from a female sideline character. It details the criminal life of Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson), a Cleveland union leader turned mob enforcer whose notorious conflict with money man Shondor Birns (Christopher Walker) and collaboration with significant local gangster John Nardi (Vincent D'Onofrio) led to an endless series of car bombs as he gradually claimed his turf, killing anyone that stood in his way. It's told through the ineptly constructed framing device of ersatz acquaintance and cop Joe Manditski (Val Kilmer) doling out voiceover exposition whenever the film – which literally sets up each scene in a passionless, linear biography fashion without any cinematic embellishment – fails to do so. What's odd is that rather than find a path into the story through the rejection of social conventions or the nature of morality and ego, writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh diffidently tries to get us to identity with the serial killing sociopath of a protagonist. It's an odd choice, especially considering that no effort is made to actually distinguish each character from another, beyond Linda Cardellini as the passive, pissed-off wife and a sassy, elderly Irish neighbour that disapproves of Green's "lifestyle." But to make up for the flat, timid nature of the rest of the movie, there's a car or building explosion every two to three minutes, reminding us how truly simple these grotesque creatures really are. The Blu-Ray includes an hour-long documentary on Greene, which basically says the same thing as the movie, only with first-person interviews that excitedly remark upon his ability to avoid the many attempts on his life. (Anchor Bay)