23. KILL THE IRISHMAN
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
Stars: Ray Stevenson, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Laura Ramsey, Vincent D’Onofrio, Paul Sorvino, Steve Schirripa
Kill The Irishman is a Frankenstein’s monster of a gangster flick, following the templates set by all of Martin Scorsese’s mob pics, The Sopranos, and every other Mafia tale this side of Mario Puzo. Yet, despite the constant familiarity throughout, indie director Jonathan Hensleigh’s scrappy little film is a triumph of performance over material. It’s no Goodfellas, but it’s certainly worthy addition to the genre’s canon.
Dominating a well-deserved starring role, Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone) brings depth, hulking presence, and brutish charm to the role of Danny Greene, a real-life Irish gangster in 1970’s Cleveland who made it his mission to piss off the local Italian Mafia and defy death on numerous occasions. Stevenson plays Greene as an angel with a dirty face, the kind of guy who’ll look after an elderly neighbor before pummeling a dude’s face in front of his kids. It’s a noteworthy turn, supported nicely by a who’s who of tough-guy character actors and an impressive Val Kilmer as Greene’s cop friend/foil.
The gangster genre has been dormant since The Sopranos called it quits, so, in some ways, Kill The Irishman’s endearment could be attributed to its void-filling timeliness. That it’s a well-made, tightly acted, and riveting flick in its own right is a welcomed bonus.