Ordinary Decent Criminal (2000)


ordinary decent criminal1

Director: Thaddeus O’Sullivan.
Starring:Kevin Spacey, Llinda Florentino, Helen Baxendale, Peter Mullan, Stephan Dillane, David Hayman. UK/Ireland. 1h 33m.

The first time I caught this, it was on TV as myself and my partner were getting ready to go out for the night and were incredibly delayed as we wanted to watch the end of this film but also were quite desperate for last orders. It’s as ingenious as it is inviting.

Loosely based around the life of a real Dublin gangster Martin Cahill whose story was originally brought to the big screen in 1998 by John Boreman as The General. This version of Cahill played by the soft faced Kevin Spacey is way more devious and mischievous and ever calmly smiling smiling almost at the audience, because, we know.. he ain’t such a bad guy after all.

Michael was a terrible gangster, but his friends were just ordinary…

So keeping things as far away from the IRA as possible this common thief lives on a council estate with his two wives (also sisters) and his many children, his gang regularly meet up in the post office collecting their dole and are pretty “ordinary” guys, apart from their unique abilities to outwit the police and pull off amazing heists. In this particular case it’s a painting and due to their inability to shift the painting they become red hot targets for the local police headed up by Quigley (Stephan Dillane).

His story is so stupid it’s probably true.

Definitely a lot of tongue in a lot of cheek, in this recount of a modern day Robin Hood story, but if you keep your expectations low and just want to be entertained by a few laddish/criminal genius antics then it’s very watchable, the rivalry between Lynch (Spacey) and the hot tempered officer Quigley (Dillane) escalated into a vicious Roadrunner sketch. It has many flaws, it’s a family friendly dreamy view of violent crime, if this was more realistic it wouldn’t have as much charm and the hard men would be killing and maiming innocent people, terrorising the neighbourhood and not looked upon as local heroes as they peddled drugs and waved guns around hurting civilians, but this approach is side stepped for a softer touch, instead they are just out to steal a Caravaggio. but as much as the project is unrealistic (a guy living with two wives and no fights.. yeah right), the accents are frequently dropped the film has some charms, albeit rose tinted. Dillane is a great as the ever frustrated officer, who starts to catch up with his Irish Roadrunner. the dialogue is crisp and sharp, the heists and situations are a blend of comedy and genius, but all in all this movie has no edge to it.




Rating 7/10

RSnatch (2000),
L – Selected Irish Films, Robin Hood Hero’s
5S – Kevin Spacey, Peter Mullan, Stephen Dillane
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