Ray Stevenson leads the cast in Kill the Irishman, which is about a tough Irish thug who rises through the ranks of the mob during the 1970s in Cleveland. Stevenson plays the hotheaed Irishman Danny Greene. He’s joined by Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Vinnie Jones and Christopher Walken. The cast list is very impressive given the fact that this film was in limited release with barely any advertisements, but can Kill the Irishman hold its own up against other classic mobster movies like Goodfellas?
Director Jonathan Hensleigh (The Punisher) manages to capture the violent times of the 70s really well. The film spans over the rise and fall of Danny Greene and it is quite the life, going from union worker to a turf war with the Italian mafia. Over the summer of 1976, 36 bombs ended up going off in Cleveland alone and Hensleigh captures all of that very well, but the film struggles with its general lack of depth and bad dialogue. The story of the film is decent, but it never manages to go beyond that. You follow Danny Greene throughout his rise and fall, but you never really get a feel for anyone else around him, which results in a very boring affair.
Mafia films usually take pride in showing their family relationships between characters, but Kill the Irishman feels like a one man gang with the occasional help of some friends. The only real relationship I saw in the film was between Danny Greene and an old friend turned cop named Joe Manditski (Val Kilmer). Other than that Green does work with several characters, like a loan shark named Shondor Birns (Christopher Walken) and a gangster who he becomes allies with named John Nardi (Vincent D’Onofrio).
Greene works with these guys in different periods of the film, but never for too long. He is always working his way to the top without keeping many connections, which later helps contribute to his long list of enemies. By the end of the film there are bombs going off every other day in attempt to kill Mr. Greene. Unlike most mob bosses he doesn’t hide out or take a trip out of town when things get rough, instead he goes on national television and tells everyone where he can be found, either at his office or at his home.
It’s no doubt that Danny Greene was an interesting Irishman, but the fact of the matter is that Kill the Irishman isn’t all that compelling. It’s bogged down with passable dialogue and a lack of any sort of depth in the relationships between its central characters. Making matters worse, the special effects for most of the explosions are done very poorly with CGI. If you’re making a film about a shit load of explosions going off then make sure to have decent looking effects, otherwise it will ruin the only good thing going for the film, which was the action shots.
The Blu-ray carries a decent picture transfer. The colors seemed to be very washed out and jaded, but it fits the film quite well. It’s clear and crisp for the most part, but it never manages to become reference quality. It works for what the film is, but it could be better.
On the other hand, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is explosive! Since most of the films best parts come from the action bits, the explosions sound magnificent. The dialogue is very clear and understandable and most of the outdoor scenes feature a full surround experience, using all of the speakers for ambient effects.
The special features department is rather bare for Kill the Irishman. The Blu-ray disc features an hour long documentary called Danny Greene: The Rise And Fall Of The Irishman, which consists of several interviews and commentaries with people that both worked with and knew Danny Greene. It also has footage and TV clips from the time of the events, which were quite interesting to see after viewing the fake TV clips in the actual film. The documentary helps paint a bigger picture of who the real Danny Greene really was and the only down fall is the lack of any other special features to help tell more about Danny. In addition to the documentary there is one theatrical trailer for Kill the Irishman.
Overall, Kill the Irishman is a dull and sometimes boring film. It has a decent cast of known actors, but the film manages to lack any depth between characters and the story generally doesn’t seem all that interesting. The Blu-ray comes with a decent picture transfer and an awesome Dolby TrueHD audio track. Unfortunately, the special features department is a very bare, consisting of only one documentary and a theatrical trailer. If you’re into mob movies then perhaps give this one a rental, but I don’t suggest purchasing this title as there won’t be much reply value.