Crime, 106 Minutes, 2011
I’ve been waiting for some time for Ray Stevenson [IMDB] to start getting the A-List lead roles that he clearly deserves. He’s been featured in some of the best TV on TV (HBO’s glorious “Rome” and Showtime’s “Dexter” to name two of my favorites). He’s flexible, committed and charming has hell (even when playing an evil sonofabitch). So, while I missed this when it came out, I was thrilled to see him taking the lead in a major (if lower-budget) motion picture.
The good news is that Stevenson is great. The bad news is that the movie… isn’t. While far from “bad” it does rely almost exclusively on gangster movie clichés and has some pretty serious pacing issues. It often plays as a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive story and we unfortunately never really get to truly understand the characters.
This is the true(ish) story of Danny Greene who convinced, charmed and punch his way to the top of the Cleveland dock workers union. Working within his own morality he ends up on the wrong side of law and on the shit-list of pretty much every organized crime family in the area. As his list of enemies grows so do the (failed) attempts on his life.
Danny is (as you might have guessed from the title) Irish and many scenes play-up the stereotypical (but often real) enmity between Irish and Italian Americans. Some of the story is told via the narration of detective that grew up in the same neighborhood as Danny but this device isn’t maintained very well and often feels tacked on. The rest of the story has a more traditionally third-person presentation.
This really isn’t a bad movie. It was entertaining enough, I suppose, and I do like many of the people involved. At the same time it had a sort of a safe, “off-the-shelf” feeling to it. It felt more like a movie-of-the-week; designed more for general appeal than for anything else. It didn’t make any real mistakes but neither did it ever really try to rise above either. This is a shame because Stevenson and the rest of the cast have clearly proven that they could have handled much, much more.