The General (1998)


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.


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.


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.


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.





Runaway Train (1985)


I really enjoyed this movie. I remember seeing it on TV many years ago, but had forgotten some of it due to the fact I only ever saw it once. The story concerns a brutal convict called Oscar ‘Manny’ Manheim (played by the brilliant Jon Voight), who has been welded shut in his cell for 3 straight years, mainly down to the fact he has made two escape attempts from the maximum security Stonehaven Prison in Alaska. Manny is pushed by the warden to make another attempt at escape which he does, taking dim witted prize fighter Buck McGeehy (played by Eric Roberts). Together they creep through the sewers, down a stream and hop aboard a train to make good their escape. But when the train driver dies of a heart attack, Manny & Buck find themselves hurtling down the track fighting for their lives.


The film moves along at such a breakneck pace. Just watching the actors walk along the side of this high speed train makes my palms sweat. Everyone is on top form, even Rebecca DeMornay who plays an engineer that has been stranded on the train. Eric Roberts adds humour to his role, practically jumping around the screen full of energy. Jon Voight adds menace, but also heart in his role as Manny. I have always liked him as an actor and he doesn’t fail to disappoint. If you have never seen this movie then you owe to yourself to get a copy, as it really is something special and a constant reminder of why practical effects trump CGI every time.


Arrow Films have put together a magnificent transfer. The film itself is bleak and saturated of colour, but that was a concious decision by the director. Arrow have cleaned this film up to such a high standard that you can practically feel the snow flying off the train. The extras are pretty special too. There is an interview with director Andrei Konchalovsky, Jon Voight shares his thoughts on the role he played, as does Eric Roberts. There is a trailer with commentary by Rod Lurie and a wonderful booklet with writing on the movie by Michael Brooke and an interview with production designer Stephen Marsh conducted by the always brilliant Callum Waddell. Rounding the extras off are the original Life Magazine article that inspired the film and various production images.


This copy of Runaway Train was graciously provided by the wonderful folks over at You can order your copy from