The General (1998)

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Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) was a notorious Dublin criminal who was shot dead in 1994. This movie charts his life from lowly shoplifter, to one of the most prolific armed robbers in Ireland. It opens up with Cahill’s death, and is then played through from his childhood through to his adult life. Martin Cahill is shown to be a very clever criminal, and enormously charismatic. This I feel is down to the talent of Brendan Gleeson, who plays Cahill with a mischievous streak.

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Cahill’s nemesis was an inspector called Ned Kenny (Jon Voight). I must say I was a bit unsure at first that an American actor was playing this character, but Voight’s Irish accent is spot on. He dogs Cahill at every turn, leaving Cahill to come up with ever ingenious ways to foil the police. Martin Cahill would always walk around Dublin with his hood up and his face covered by his hand. All of these little traits are employed here by Brendan Gleeson, who really gets into the character.

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However this film does leave a bitter taste in my mouth. It has some really funny moments, and the way Martin Cahill used to outwit the police was hilarious. However in the movie he is displayed as a loveable rogue, a Robin Hood type man of the people, which he wasn’t. Yes he used to help some of the less fortunate out, but he was also a violent armed robber, who even tortured his own gang. Biopics such as this can be hard when the main focus is somebody that you wouldn’t have much sympathy for. However I feel the director John Boorman does his best with the material at hand.

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The supporting cast such as Adrian Dunbar, Sean McGinley and Maria Doyle Kennedy are brilliant. The acting on whole, is fantastic. So my rating will reflect that. It’s a film I do enjoy watching, but I do feel that Martin Cahill should have been more accurately displayed. Overall however it is worth visiting if you have never seen it.

4/5

JM

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