'Kill the Irishman': Crime-world saga with lots of mayhem

Ray Stevenson plays Danny Greene, who rose from stevedoreto union boss to mob-linked Cleveland folk hero.
Ray Stevenson plays Danny Greene, who rose from stevedoreto union boss to mob-linked Cleveland folk hero.
Posted: March 25, 2011

Not 15 minutes into Kill the Irishman and Cleveland dockworker Danny Greene has already slapped two guys silly and punched another out cold. Tough?

You bet.

If Brando's Terry Malloy could've been a contender, Ray Stevenson's Greene - a real-life stevedore turned union boss turned mob-connected Cleveland folk hero - definitely was one. But comparisons to On the Waterfront can stop right there. Kill the Irishman, from director Jonathan Hensleigh (The Punisher), is the kind of artless crime-world saga that telegraphs its punches and stocks its smoky bars with muscle from The Sopranos.

Vincent D'Onofrio, Robert Davi, Val Kilmer (as a paunchy police detective), Paul Sorvino - it's a clubhouse of mugs kicking themselves that they didn't land a part in The Godfather.

And isn't that Christopher Walken as the loan shark who doubles as a Russian restaurateur?

"You like Stroganoff?" he asks, as only Walken can.

Adapted from Rick Porrello's book of the same name, Kill the Irishman travels back to the 1960s and then into the '70s, following the swaggering steps of Greene, who dropped out of high school but could always be seen with a book in his hand. Unless he was working a shovel or a set of bolt cutters, that is, or making it with the barmaid he ends up marrying (Linda Cardellini).

Stevenson is big and swarthy and not altogether without credibility, but he's got as much charisma as a potato. And when some slick thug from Glasgow calls Greene a "potato eater" - well, he sees that ethnic slur and raises him one, launching into a graphic description of the recipe for haggis.

And then, maybe he slaps the guy.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/.

 

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