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I've always been a fan of Liam Neeson and Michael Collins has always been one of my favorites. Neeson does an incredible job portraying Collins, a man who basically had to fight an underground insurgency against the British Empire and then sit across the table from these same people to negotiate the deal that created the modern Irish Republic. This while being branded a traitor by some of his former comrades for sitting down with and compromising with the British. Collins had to invent a new mode of urban warfare after the failure of the 1916 Easter Rebellion. Neeson also brings to life Collins' attempt to live a normal life while running an underground war. You see his pain when his closest friend and comrade in arms rebels against the treaty and fights to his death against it and Collins. You see him fall in love with Julia Roberts'character and its tragic ending. Of course this is a Hollywood treatment of Irish history and should be considered as such, but it's still a great movie.
Neil Jordan's historical biopic on the leader of the IRA named Michael Collins is an absolute masterpiece of a film. Stunning cinematography, smoky lighting, film noir aesthetic, Irish history, brutal combat, realistic recreations, and an all star cast. Jordan's own direction keeps you interesting and invested in Irish freedom every second of screen time.
Liam Neeson's performance as Michael Collins is outstanding in every way. His gravitas is immediate, his presence is undeniable, his Irish accent is thick, his emotions genuine, and his beliefs self-evident. I love Liam Neeson in Michael Collins. He should be proud of how true to character he feels in Michael Collins.
Aidan Quinn is excellent as Collins' friend and fellow IRA organizer Harry Boland. Alan Rickman is so subtle and commanding as Collins' foil and eventual opponent Eamon de Valera. Julia Roberts is excellent with her gripping dramatic performance and a solid Irish accent as Collins' love interest Kitty Kiernan.
I have to hand it to Stephen Rea as Ned Broy. His dramatic sensibilities are those akin to a spy thriller and his role in Michael Collins is fantastic. You are intrigued and unsettled by his character, then endeared to him through Rea's brilliant show of acting.
Brendan Gleeson, Charles Dance, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers all have nice supporting cameo roles that leave an impact.
Lastly, I adored the heavy Irish score from Elliot Goldenthal. His composition is sweeping and epic with a hearty splendor as well as a dark seriousness for the violence and politics. I am seriously impressed by Goldenthal's score.
In all, Michael Collins is up there with my favorite biopics. There are not many films as good as this one. Neil Jordan did Ireland proud from what I've seen.
If there is any flaw in this movie, it is that the life and efforts of Michael Collins simply cannot be encapsulated in a movie that runs roughly 2 hrs.
He was a critical figure in Irish History and you simply can't appreciate all he was responsible for or his brilliance on many levels, in the time frame that is allowed for this movie to unfold.
I watched this after seeing the movie THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY- which takes place after Collins had agreed( reluctantly) to a treaty with England.
It makes a little more sense to see this first- then see THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY if one wishes to stay in historical year order. This movie moves at a swift pace and Liam Neeson passes well for the real Collins, looks wise. Julia Robert's character as well as Aidan Quinn's both really existed and things pretty much unfold the way they did in real life.
Brilliant treatment of the conditions and sentiments that existed for revolution and separation from Britain, which sets the backdrop for the 'troubles' to come. Neeson as Collins is a strong and dynamic figure, tragic in his loyalty to a President that sees him as a means to an end... and in the end, discards him as refuse.
If you've never been to Ireland or have never studied its rich history, watch this movie at least twice to gain an understanding of some of the nuances that are portrayed of a people desperate for self governance. If you've been to Ireland and have talked to her people, this movie will fill in many gaps and help you to appreciate a small window of the heart wrenching saga that is Ireland.
Liam Neeson is great as Collins and the late great Alan Rickman is superb in his portrayal as the snake Eamon DeValera. Julia Roberts should have stayed home. As a early 20th Century Irish history buff, I would give Neil Jordan a B on the historical accuracy scale. (Examples: Ned Broy was never caught by his Castle masters. However, two of Collins' most trusted comrades were caught the night before the Squad did its work against the Cairo gang. Collins was indeed very close to Harry Boland but was not present when he was killed.) Despite the flaws , it is a very good movie. I've watched it a half dozen times and will likely do so again.
This was so much more than I expected. Liam Neeson was very well cast, as was Alan Rickman and Aiden Quinn. The tragedy and betrayal of Harry was portrayed in a sympathetic and emotional way. I know that every movie has things added to make it more interesting and yet we know that many things are omitted simply because the producers (or anyone else) really don't them, so the two things evened out. I've been reading about Michael, etc. and now have specific things I want to clarify and understand. This was so well done, and I can't think of another actor who could have perfectly fit his character. Worth every minute.
5.0 out of 5 starsLiam Neeson is excellent as Collins (although Kenneth Branagh might have been better ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 20, 2018
I have seen this film before and following a recent visit to Ireland felt I should watch it again. The DVD included an interview between Melvyn Bragg and the director Neil Jordan and this gave a helpful addition and objective comparison of the film and historic events. Liam Neeson is excellent as Collins (although Kenneth Branagh might have been better cast in terms of appearance, he and Collins look very much alike), also Aidan Quinn as Harry Boland and Alan Rickman as Eamon de Valera. Julia Roberts as Collins' fiance Kitty Kiernan is sadly miscast and the story is distorted to add unnecessary tension to their relationship. Michael Collins was a complex character: capable of using urban violence to achieve Irish Independence but also wanting the violence to be over so that lives could be rebuilt in peace. He was killed by his own side when they could not accept the North/South agreement. The film gives some idea of the complicated issues of that time.
4.0 out of 5 starsGood Blu-Ray transfer, excellent if flawed film.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2016
As a long-time owner of the old two sided DVD, and an admirer of the film, I was delighted to see it was to get a Blu-Ray release. And they've done a pretty good job of it - IMO anything with Chris Menges name on the cinematography deserves the best quality picture the studio can come up with. The sound is good too - I played it at some considerable volume, and there was crystal clarity in all the scenes, both of dialogue and in the more explosive moments.
Revisiting this film after many years, I found my original feelings confirmed - that it's a five star film slightly marred by what I think is an over-emphasis on the Julia Roberts strand of the film. That's no particular reflection on Julia Roberts, although her accent does on occasions stray over the Atlantic, but I just felt that in a story about an important period in history, focusing on the love story introduced a element of triviality that wasn't necessary. The rest of the film is first class - I'm not expert enough on the historical detail (though it does encourage me to find out more) to comment on that aspect, but the direction, tension and acting are top notch. It's a fine film, with the reservations above.
Going off topic for a moment, and back to Chris Menges, dare I hope that one day some enlightened soul will give us a Blu-Ray release of Local Hero?
5.0 out of 5 starsTop of the morning - and any time where film is concerned!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 3, 2012
I have just ordered a further copy of this engrossing epic, having owned and given away an earlier copy. It is too good not to have in any film collection - and even better if you have any interest in the subject matter. Although a bit free with some facts (understandable within the restrictions of producing an entertainment), it is noneless a fine and utterly involving take on a tumultuous dangerous time in the history of these islands. The cast is excellent, and I don't accept the frequent criticism of Julia Roberts as Kitty Kiernan. That woman WAS beautiful and the book containing the letters that passed between her and Collins gives mournful weight to the love that existed between them. Roberts possesses the quiet yet firm beauty and character necessary for the role. The evocation of time and place is wonderfully well done and although the demonisation of the G-men (scowling, brutal & violent - to offset the actions of Collins and his freedom forces, no doubt) was a bit wearing, it certainly aided the need to portray the unforgiving nature of two determined mindsets with little common ground for making peace. I confess to a personal interest in the material on show here. Look closely at the piece of paper that "Ned Broy" is burning in the Vaughn Hotel fireplace and you'll just see "92 Lower Baggot Street..." before it is devoured by flames. It was the address in which my father's first cousin - a courts martial officer - was shot dead in front of his wife by a team of Collins' gunmen led by Joe Leonard. I only recently discovered this piece of family history and it certainly brings this top notch film to vivid albeit disturbing life for this particular viewer - tho' the 14 victims of that original Bloody Sunday were reduced to a handful in the movie. Interestingly, the address still survives as a popular small hotel.
3.0 out of 5 starsBrilliant Film, Disappointing DVD Release
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 11, 2014
I will begin by saying that I would give the film on it's own a rating of 5 Stars, as it is a well made film about Irish history with a star studded cast. Overall, it keeps close to the true version of events, with some deviations for cinematic reasons.
However, I deducted 2 Stars due to the way it is represented on DVD format. My biggest gripe with it is that it is on a dual disk format, meaning that it is necessary to take the dvd out and turn it over and put it back into the player during the film. The need to do this interrupts the film and one's enjoyment while watching it. What makes it worse is the fact that the film is not overly long and is shorter than some films which for some reason fit onto 1 dvd without having to turn it over.
The only good thing about the dvd release apart from getting to re-watch a great film, is the inclusion of a documentary from the South Bank Show which deals with historical fact and shows archive footage of the 'Big Fella' himself.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2017
An OK movie ruined by the historical errors Michael Collins side kick didn't die he survived and lived a good age,standout performance as always the late much missed Alan Rickman oh how we miss that liquid smooth voice,Neeson's is OTT as Collins except for the usual foul mouth language and the big failing is to depict the British as SS Storm Troopers and the IRA as freedom fighters (who killed as many as the Brits did)