"Kill the Irishman"

The Michigan premiere of "Kill the Irishman" was on March 11th at the Uptown Palladium in Birmingham, as part of the opening night festivities of the Uptown Film Festival. The festival showcases movies made in Michigan, and "Irishman" was shot entirely in Detroit, operating as Cleveland of the 1960s and '70s. The film itself is an interesting one, as it tells the tale of Danny Greene, who worked for the mob during that time period, and it's based on a true story; actual news clips were interspersed with the movie, which helped authenticate it, and I love seeing movies that are not only based on true stories, but that use old clips and videos from the actual time period to help tell the story.

Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson, "The Other Guys") is a laborer who often works in 110 degree temperatures on ships at the docks. He and his buddies decide that the union isn't doing much for them, so Danny becomes the new union president. From there, his "career" only skyrockets: he makes friends with mobster John Nardi (Vincent D'Onofrio, TV's "Law and Order: Criminal Intent") and gets himself in with some tough guys. He's sent to a jail a few times, but this only proves to be a minor setback. When he ends up crossing Shondor Birns (Christopher Walken, "Balls of Fury") by refusing to pay back a loan from one of the prominent New York crime families, his days end up being numbered, as Birns puts a hit on him and offers $25,000 to whomever "kills the Irishman."

Ray Stevenson is fantastic in this film. I haven't really seen him in many other movies, but he will be in the upcoming "Thor," and he has also been in the recent "The Other Guys" and "The Book of Eli." His performance as Danny Greene is both violent and compassionate, if that's possible, which leaves the audience with an impression of a mobster that is more than just a hardened killer. Vincent D'Onofrio is great as John Nardi, one of the Cleveland crime bosses, and Val Kilmer ("Macgruber") plays Joe Manditski, a cop who has known Danny for many years. Christopher Walken unfortunately does not have a big role in the movie, but he makes the most of it, and provides a few chuckles throughout his scenes with Stevenson. Interestingly enough, Ray Stevenson is Irish, which may have helped him portray Danny Greene, the "Irishman," so convincingly, too.

Yes, see this movie. Be aware that it's rated "R" for a reason - there is a lot of violence throughout the film, and also one five-second or so scene of nudity - but if you like mob movies, you will like this film. From what I've read about Danny Greene on Wikipedia, the film takes liberties with the actual story, but the picture it paints of Greene and his life is a compelling story nonetheless.

"Kill the Irishman" is in Detroit-area theaters today, March 18th.

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