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Awesome: 20.83%
Worth A Look75%
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Pretty Bad: 4.17%
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2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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General, The (1998)
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by Chris Parry

"Deserves a bigger audience than it will get, a good robbery film."
4 stars

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of watching Brendan Gleeson at work, may I heartily recommend you correct this situation immediately? Forsooth, the guy is a fucking natural.

The General is the story of Martin Cahill, an Irish crook who grew from a young boy stealing food to feed his family, to the scourge of all Ireland.

Never one to recognise authority, whether it be in the form of the police, the church or the IRA, Cahill was a different kind of Godfather. A real "Jack The Lad". He ruled by fear, but wasn't the kind of guy who'd shoot first and ask questions later.

John Boorman's screenplay adaption of Paul Williams' book, shows Cahill in a more positive light than he perhaps deserved. The guy stole a shitload of money, jewels and goods in his life, and used his friends, family and acquaintances to successfully avoid conviction.

But Cahill, as all criminal genius' do eventually, starts to lose control. Everything starts to encroach. The IRA want him dead. The cops want him in jail. And his gang aren't always as stainless steel as Cahill himself is.

So what's the skinny? Gleeson is a severely underrated actor. Having played Mel Gibson's sidekick Hamish in Braveheart and Bunny the hopeless gangster in I Went Down, Gleeson is fast becoming the biggest name in Irish cinema. He's called 'The Irish Depardieu' by some.

His supporting cast here are also brilliant. Adrian Dunbar (My Left Foot) and Sean McGinley (The Butcher Boy) are spot-on as Martin's closest aides. Maria Doyle Kennedy and Angeline Ball (both from The Commitments) are also perfect as Martin's wife and sister-in-law/lover.

The only hiccup in casting comes from the only huge commercial name in the cast, Jon voight. He plays a jaded police officer who's life's work has been to catch Cahill and finally bring him to justice. Unfortunately, it's almost like most of his scenes have been cut, because he disappears through most of the film.

That aside, this is a very decent movie. Not a classic, not even a highly recommend. It's just good, fun, funny and not formula.
Boorman does a fine job of telling the story, but seems to take the little things for granted. Too many times I spotted things that would give away Cahill but didn't. While the schemes he uses to avoid capture and contine earning a 'living' are great fun to watch unfold, sometimes it sounds like an old wive's tale.

If not for the fact this was 'based' on a true story, I wouldn't have credited it for being true.

The screening I saw was all black and white. I like that look. It suits this movie. The ending is given away in the first scene of the film, which pissed me off a lot but regardless, The General is worth a look. It's short of breathtaking, but Big Brendan Gleeson, however, is a gem.

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originally posted: 11/17/98 01:57:32
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User Comments

1/12/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
2/29/04 john very involving and well acted and directed but never exiting 4 stars
7/17/03 Mr. Hat The black and white is perfect, and the directing is awesome. 4 stars
4/02/03 Jack Sommersby All style and no substance. Never gets under the title character's skin. 2 stars
5/25/02 The Bomb 69 Gleeson gave a strong performance, Irish people are funny 4 stars
6/09/99 Bruce Hedge Great film about a NASTY man-not as violent as Tarantino, some funny bits , entertaining. 4 stars
3/10/99 little jerry At long last Boorman returns to his forte,the crime film.STICK WITH WHAT YOU'RE GOOD AT! 5 stars
2/07/99 Giladani A bit long, but worth it. Jon Voight gives a bad performance but the movie itself is great. 4 stars
1/17/99 Heather Great movie, full of laughs, look for it! 5 stars
1/12/99 Doobie Boy I really enjoyed this movie. A lot. Hunt it down and have a laugh. 5 stars
12/25/98 Binky Gleeson is out of sight. Great performance, good film. 5 stars
12/20/98 Mr Showbiz Gleeson delivers a knock-out performance, Boorman won best director at Cannes. 5 stars
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  18-Dec-1998 (R)



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