Spotlight: 'Kill the Irishman'

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2011 - 5:13 PM

An all-star crime drama set in 1970s Cleveland.

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Ray Stevenson in "Kill the Irishman."

Photo: Anchor Bay Films

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Though its production values are strictly '70s drive-in, "Kill the Irishman" (★★ 1/2 out of four stars, Uptown Theater, 2906 Hennepin Av., Mpls.) has a cast to drool over. Christopher Walken, Paul Sorvino, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio -- every wise guy, hard case and leg-breaker in the casting director's handbook signed on for this rags-to-riches mob chronicle. Barrel-chested Ray Stevenson (pictured) plays Danny Greene, the Cleveland crime boss who rose through the corrupt longshoremen's union to become an FBI informant and then leader of the city's Irish mob. His turf war with the Cosa Nostra made Cleveland America's bombing capital in the mid-1970s. Greene, a teetotaling, vegetarian physical fitness buff, was fearless and seemingly indestructible. Writer/director Jonathon Hensleigh ("The Punisher") romanticizes Greene and doesn't have a very nuanced understanding of labor racketeering. That said, he does possess a fine eye for shabby urban landscapes and a nice way with explosions. The moral might be, "live by the bomb, die by the bomb," if this bad-guy biopic had the slightest interest in imparting ethics lessons.

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