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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.55%
Average: 9.09%
Pretty Bad: 4.55%
Total Crap: 22.73%

2 reviews, 32 user ratings

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Michael Collins
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Strong Neil Jordan biopic."
4 stars

Critics fretted way too much over 'Michael Collins,' as they frequently do with historical films. Is it an accurate portrait or a glorification? Will it inflame the renewed Irish troubles? No use picking nits about 'Michael Collins'; it's an unabashed romantic epic. The proof is in the casting: hunks Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn, pretty woman Julia Roberts, and thinking-woman's heart-throbs Alan Rickman (whose stock has risen since 'Sense and Sensibility') and Stephen Rea ('The Crying Game').

Working from his own script, which took years to get produced, the acclaimed Irish director Neil Jordan uses very broad and movie-ish strokes to paint his portrait of the busy, eponymous hero. As played by Neeson, Michael Collins is a Dublin scrapper with soul -- a terrorist who regrets the need for terrorism. In 1916, the British have the Irish under their thumbs, and Collins believes that the only way to escape the oppressors' thumbs is to hack them off.

We get premonitions of the violent dissent to come when Collins clashes with Irish Republican Army president Eamon De Valera (Rickman), a canny and (Jordan suggests) murderously duplicitous politician. As Collins tires of bloodshed and seeks a peaceful compromise, De Valera harbors vengeful bloodlust beneath his dyspeptic demeanor. Michael Collins should be seen for Rickman's performance alone; his best and spookiest moments are his most immobile -- he's like a cobra in repose.

That's one of the movie's two conflicts. The other is between Collins and his best friend, Harry Boland (Quinn), who are both madly in love with the gentle Kitty Kiernan (Roberts). Sometimes this love triangle is groanworthy, even if it did actually happen, and dramatically it leads nowhere. Neeson and Roberts strike few sparks together, perhaps because they were once an item in real life years ago.

Jordan isn't good at conventional romance, anyway. He's best known as a dark fantasist (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire, Mona Lisa, The Company of Wolves), and Michael Collins gives him some Third Man-esque intrigue to play with. When Collins meets a spy (Rea) in various dark places, the atmosphere is as saturnine and forbidding as you could hope for, and Jordan's cinematographer Chris Menges works in bottomless shades of blue and gray. (No green in this Irish movie.) The director also stages violence -- sudden, jolting -- like a true pacifist.

The performers understand their function, which is to look great and be larger than life. Roberts' accent falters a bit (as it did in Mary Reilly), but she commits herself, as if grateful for a high-prestige job. Quinn has a fine moment of quiet heartbreak when Kitty confesses her love for Collins. Neeson comes through with a full-bodied, full-throated performance, though you'd do well to forget that Collins was only 31 when he was murdered. Neeson, who looks his age (44), is playing a man in his twenties for much of the movie.

'Michael Collins' is neither a history lesson nor great art; it lacks the complexity to be either one. What it offers is Jordan's visual mood, carried on Neeson's wide shoulders. You either relax into the voluptuous movieness of it or you don't. I did, happily.

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originally posted: 01/16/07 12:24:54
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User Comments

9/10/16 Anne Watched it for about an hour and gave up on it 2 stars
4/22/15 action movie fan good action, period peice-good movie,but niel jordan,s direction and editing are sloppy 3 stars
7/22/08 James Langton Film was excellent, tho sometime inaccurate. But the Documentry with it was my favourite 5 stars
4/04/08 Kelsey Not so bad that it deserves such foul and uneducated-sounding language, but fair enough. 4 stars
10/25/07 William Goss Makes for a better entertainment than a history lesson; episodic but effective enough. 4 stars
5/14/07 Nicky Gallagher Not keen on innacuracies about the IRA, MP Bartley? Burn and spit on every British tabloid. 5 stars
11/25/06 Rory amazing film made me cry 5 stars
2/15/06 Kenneth Munson Romanticiznig the 20s IRA is profoundly differentfrom the IRA today. Huge difference, sir. 4 stars
2/15/06 jakko o my god wat is this person on?? gr8 movie!!! 4 stars
10/19/05 Joseph O'Neill Collins didn't target civilians unlike the British 5 stars
9/16/05 gerard o'dwyer i want to be the next michale cllions 1 stars
11/21/04 Daveman Awe, those murdering IRA terrorists really were swell guys. 1 stars
9/23/04 Breslin Bloody Sunday (absurd soccer massacre) happened. Fact. 5 stars
8/04/04 Andrew so wat if its not exactly right. u dumbasses just dont understand wat was happening 5 stars
7/13/04 pilib de roiste true to history about the savage sadistic manical british 5 stars
7/10/04 x Very powerful. 5 stars
5/29/04 Butt Kicker I drop my pants & display my naked buttocks at MP Bartley's general direction 5 stars
5/27/04 Marcus MP Bailey - The rape of good movies continues 5 stars
3/07/04 R.W. Welch Not bad except for absurd soccer massacre which undercuts the pic's credibility. 3 stars
2/29/04 john just kind of floats along in a boring and uninvolving way 2 stars
4/02/03 X Powerful stuff. 5 stars
1/01/03 Britishlover I only rented it for the presence of Alan Rickman. Other than that, totally forgettable. 3 stars
11/12/02 Pam Sheppard the Irish weren't oppressed? it's called Penal Law.. Home Rules Bills, etc.get your facts 4 stars
10/26/02 Joe from USA and Irish blood Looks like more people liked this movie,MP Bartley, and ,IT IS ONLY A MOVIE.Fuckstain 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Dreadful 1 stars
9/24/02 michael byrne no doubt you have some english blood in you, however if you new the real history u wood cry 5 stars
8/31/02 I Burch Brilliant movie - and MP Bartley obviously knows fuck all about either Collins or this era. 5 stars
7/20/01 Dom Corleone Interesting film which ultimately connects with the viewer 4 stars
2/22/01 Steve in Prague damn you Irish idiots LET IT GO already 1 stars
12/01/98 Mr.Pink Intriguing film with an A for effort for everyone involved 5 stars
10/06/98 Tommy Maguire fascinating insight into a man who changed the course of Irish politics forever. A must see 4 stars
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  05-Sep-1996 (R)



Directed by
  Neil Jordan

Written by
  Neil Jordan

  Ian Hart
  Julia Roberts
  Richard Ingram
  Liam Neeson
  Aidan Quinn
  John Kenny

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