The Irish Mob, 2023.
Directed by Patrick McKnight.
Starring Rob McCarthy, Pauline O’Driscoll, Baz Black, Lynseyann Mulvey, Liam Griffin, and Eoin Duffy.
Irish gangland boss Val becomes the high priority target of the Dublin Garda after an armed robbery gets national coverage.
Valentino ‘Val’ Fagan (Rob McCarthy) is the most feared man in Dublin, as he runs all the criminal rackets. He is offered the chance to go up in the ranks of organised crime by two senior bosses who require Val to come up with a huge amount of money in a very short space of time, which prompts Val and his gang to commit an armed robbery where they can lift over five-million Euros. The trouble is, Val is the high priority target of Garda detective Liz Delahunt (Pauline O’Driscoll) and her team, and once news of the robbery is made public Val begins to feel the heat on his back, prompting the already paranoid gangster to go totally over the edge.
The first thing to notice about The Irish Mob is that it is shot superbly well, opening with some gorgeous aerial photography of Dublin by night, the lights of the city bringing it to life and setting the scene straight away. During the opening we also get to see Val and hear him giving a voiceover about who he is and why he is in the position he is in; it isn’t quite “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster” but there is the sense this is the kind of vibe the filmmakers are going for.
And aiming high within any particular genre or style is not a bad thing, and after a few scenes of Val snorting, shooting and punching his way through anyone or anything that gets in his path you do know pretty much all you need for the movie to work. Rob McCarthy does do intense staring very well and gives enough menace and charm in his performance to make you believe that Val is someone who could command the levels of respect he does.
However, a quick look at the running time reveals that The Irish Mob is less than 80 minutes long, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to tell a story of police chases, armed robberies and general gangster life, and so there is an economy to the writing which means you have accept certain things because you are told them, rather than be shown. For example, Val’s right-hand man is Alan ‘Renno’ Reynolds (Liam Griffin), and we are told that they have done many jobs together over several years, they’re best buddies, do everything together, etc.
But when things get heavy, Val asks something of his so-called best friend/lifelong partner that causes Renno to have a crisis of conscience. On the surface, Renno’s thought process is understandable, from a non-gangster point-of-view at least, but given we’ve just been told he’s been a hardcore criminal since he was a kid – and we only have a few minutes of film left – his actions just don’t sit right, making everything wrap up a little too quickly and conveniently to fully make sense.
It isn’t enough to bring the movie down too much – on the contrary, the action is brutal and exciting – but given the short running time and the concise nature of the script The Irish Mob feels more like an extended episode of a TV drama rather than a full movie. To pad it out a bit there is a sub-plot about a rival criminal that doesn’t really go anywhere or add very much, other than to switch the focus onto someone else for a few minutes, and when said character is no longer in the film you realise that his presence was never really needed in the first place.
For all its flaws, The Irish Mob is solid enough to warrant a rental if violent crime drama/thrillers are your thing as it does touch on all the similar bases as the Rise of the Footsoldier-type movies that keep getting churned out, albeit without the comedy value of Terry Stone’s wig. Had it been half-an-hour longer with more character-based material written into it then you could get more from it as the character piece it is trying to be but as it is, The Irish Mob is a little too undercooked to pack an effective punch at the level it is aiming for.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★