Ordinary Decent Criminal review

The third film to recreate the life of notorious Irish gangster Martin Cahill boasts a far stronger cast than either John Boorman's The General or Vicious Circle (a little-seen BBC piece starring Ken Stott). With Kevin Spacey on the cusp of Oscar glory once again, you'd expect Thaddeus O'Sullivan's comedy drama to be the most successful of the three.

Alas, the law of diminishing returns proves particularly inflexible here, with Ordinary Decent Criminal looking distinctly lightweight compared to Boorman's masterly version of events. Not only has screenwriter Gerry Stembridge chosen to rename Cahill and play fast and loose with his maverick career, he's made this two-bit Dublin hood a far more romantic figure than he really was, remoulding him as a charismatic chancer.

Spacey's Michael Lynch isn't above a spot of sadistic brutality: slamming an associate's hand in a car door, for example, then winching the vehicle 30 feet in the air. But at heart he's a family man who loves a bit of a craic - - usually at the expense of the Garda, played here by the cappuccino-slurping Dillane. Moreover, whereas the General died from an IRA gun-man's bullet, Lynch is allowed a Blarney-blustering send-off which suggests that this won't be the last we'll see of him.

O'Sullivan does his audience a grave disservice by smoothing the rough edges off his hero and his lawless fraternity. Spacey's dodgy Oirish accent also adds another layer of artifice to the proceedings, and Fiorentino's badly miscast as Doting Wife Number One.

On the plus side, Damon Albarn provides a thumping score, while Mullan and Baxendale supply sterling, if thankless, support. But peace process or not, it's a poor show when we're asked to find a car bomb funny.

Spacey supplies some charisma as the sanitised Cahill, but you can't help thinking there's a better film to be made out of such a colourful case history - - and John Boorman made it two years ago. Pretty ordinary and only half decent.

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