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Alan MaxWell [Celluloid 08.05.09] movie review horror

Year: 2009
Directors: Brendan Muldowney
Writers: Brendan Muldowney
IMDB: link
Gallery: link
Trailer: N/A
Review by: Alan Maxwell
Rating: 5 out of 10

When photographer Paul Graynor (Darren Healy) is horrifically assaulted one night not far from his own home, he retreats into isolation and watches his life slowly destroyed by the fear that eats away at him. While he ponders not only the acts of his attackers but also the state of society itself his feat gradually mutates into anger and a gritty a determination to clean up the streets is born.

If you've never seen Taxi Driver, or indeed are totally unfamiliar with the concept of a revenge movie, this might just seem new to you. For the rest of us however, Brendan Muldowney's Irish thriller offers a satisfactory diversion for an hour and a half, but little more.

When Shane Meadows made Dead Man's Shoes, there was something refreshing about seeing the revenge film shifted from the familiar sprawling American cities to a rural setting in the English Midlands. In setting his tale in Dublin, Muldowney brings a little of that breath of fresh air to proceedings but never quite manages to shake the feeling of familiarity.

In fairness to Muldowney however there are some aspects that do work with the change of scenery. The city itself is photographed beautifully, particularly at night, capturing the vibrancy of the city but still retaining a dark, foreboding mood. The decision to shoot large sections in the narrow, cramped alleyways around the city's Temple Bar area and nearby locales is especially effective in evoking the claustrophobic isolation in which Paul finds himself.

That intense sense of terror and loneliness is undone however when the film veers from a study in trauma and fear into a less successful story of a wronged man trying to fix society by any means necessary. While the desire for revenge, especially given the brutal nature of the attack, is perfectly understandable, Muldowney is in too much of a hurry to get to the action. The decline of civilisation is hammered home in a TV show Paul watches, in which we are told that violent crime is on the increase and that the world is going to hell, a plot point delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Despite Savage's flaws it has the potential to be a breakout role for Healy, who is normally restricted to smaller roles as buffoons or the dregs of society. In stepping up to play a new role and take on the lead, he copes admirably and shows a bright future ahead. It's a silver lining with a cloud however, that cloud being that in concentrating so hard on Healy's character, the rest of the cast are short-changed, usually appearing just long enough to serve whatever plot exposition is required before disappearing again.

While the film tries to show some restraint, the final straw is watching Paul shave his hair off as part of his new psycho routine, a scene which might as well have finished with him asking his own reflection who he was talking to. From then on we're into standard violence-breeds-violence lecturing and not even an uncomfortably extreme finale can rescue the film from mediocrity.

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Galwayviewer (11 years ago) Reply

This review is way off.
He mentions the tv show delivering information on violence and commenting on the "decline of civilisation" and having a plot point that is "delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer". It is blatently obvious that the tv show is a satire, a joke, about media hysteria. The audience I saw this with all got the joke and laughed. This reviewer needs to open his eyes!


Anonymous (10 years ago) Reply

totally agree with the embarrassing Irish attempt at Taxi Driver and the director tries his best to shock but does nothing more than bores with a familiar story set in a well shot if totally untrue depiction of the Dublin city which is in itself quite a bland place.


DublinNative (9 years ago) Reply

So Dublin is "a bland place"?
The film is not bad either!

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