Urban Cinefile
"I don't think my friends would say I am a private person; but then they're not sitting there in front of me with a tape recorder, are they?”"  -Alan Rickman before release of Snowcake
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday, December 16, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL

SYNOPSIS:
Michael Lynch (Kevin Spacey) is a charismatic criminal who dreams up robberies that reek of panache and befuddle the cops, endearing himself to the people of Dublin. He lives in a happy menage a trois with his wife, Christine (Linda Fiorentino) and her sister Lisa (Helen Baxendale), and has a loyal band of crims, led by Stevie (Peter Mullen) and Tony (David Hayman). He comes to realise that his long term fame relies on him pulling off a heist that will be talked about, even if its not all that commercial. But this plan causes ructions within his group, and Lynch has to be even smarter if he is to survive the planned betrayal.

"As an upbeat gangster movie, Ordinary Decent Criminal has the lot: a charismatic central character who is a criminal but with an endearing sense of loyalty, family values (albeit unconventional) and justice (albeit self-defined). Even when we see Lynch’s hard side, it is instantly redeemed by an act of mercy. So we get to root for the bad man as the underdog against the establishment – the cops. And while the cops come off second best in the intelligence stakes, there is at least Noel Quigley (Stephen Dillane), the cop who is smart enough to almost catch Lynch, and played without a sneer. The film has a superb ensemble cast supporting the enormously likeable yet edgy Kevin. A smart script makes the film taut and the direction is lively. The story is loosely based on the same Dublin crim as was John Boorman’s THE GENERAL, a man called Martin Carhill; played Brendan Gleeson, Carhill was a much more realistic figure, in that he was far harder to laugh along with. Spacey is more like a tough Robin Hood figure, while Gleeson is dangerously scary. Curiously, Boorman’s film was made about the same time, but released a year or so earlier than Ordinary Decent Criminal. Anyway, the two films really don’t compare and have different objectives; this one is all fiction and fun. You could call this a crime comedy, and it would be a crime to miss it."
Andrew L. Urban

"There's nothing ordinary about Ordinary Decent Criminal, a superb, unpredictable gangster caper filled with originality and quirky humour. Thaddeus O'Sullivan knows exactly what he wants to do with this intelligent and compelling script whose characters are brought to life by a great cast, headed by the enigmatic Kevin Spacey. And what a versatile actor he is! Just watching Spacey deep in thought is a beguiling experience in itself. Spacey says he likes to play characters where the audience is not entirely sure what they are supposed to feel: his Michael Lynch is such a character, a complex gangster whose aspirations for being remembered far outweigh his greed for material possessions. Cool, cocky and confident, Lynch is a fearless leader and one who uses his brains to outwit cops, comrades and competitors. The production design is muted, the score lively and the mood expectant. You'll be perched on the edge of your seat throughout as tension mounts; we bend and mould while the plot twists and turns, our minds prickling with curiosity. There's such a natural sense of place, and the backdrop for much of the action is set in the home with Lynch's two wives and children enjoying ordinary things, while extraordinary plots are being hatched. It's engrossing, gripping, ironic and very entertaining. Ordinary Decent Criminal is a whopper of a good yarn that tantalises and delights."
Louise Keller

"A lacklustre film by any standards, this looks even worse when compared to John Boorman's excellent The General, which was also based on the life of Dublin gangster Martin Cahill. Alas, Ordinary Decent Criminal doesn't have an eccentric, visionary director like Boorman. Instead, it has a star performance by Kevin Spacey, who's entertaining to watch even when (as here) he isn't trying very hard. One reason Spacey is so celebrated an actor is that he always plays characters who are aware of themselves as actors, remaining partly outside their chosen roles: with his darting, amused eyes and Mona Lisa smile, he caters to audience fantasies of total control and suave omniscience. His most interesting performances (notably in Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil) explore the dangers and ambiguities of maintaining this kind of self-conscious pose. The script here tries to follow a similar path: Spacey's Michael Lynch is the criminal as celebrity, a man in love with his own legend, choreographing elaborate robberies with showbusiness flair. 'We're number one,' he crows to his associates. 'Bigger than Riverdance.' Yet Spacey (unlike Brendan Gleeson in Boorman's film) can't really make this enigmatic ham into a plausible human being: he's too much the dandy to be convincing on a literal level as a tough Irish gang boss. (Significantly, both movies draw a blank when it comes to trying to make sense of Cahill's unconventional private life.) Finally, Ordinary Decent Criminal settles for celebrating its hero's narcissism, summed up in the film's one truly outrageous, memorable image: gazing at a valuable religious painting he's about to steal, Lynch pictures a potentially treacherous henchman as Judas - and himself as the betrayed Christ."
Jake Wilson

Email this article

HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL (MA15+)
(UK)

CAST: Kevin Spacey, Linda Fiorentino, Peter Mullan, Stephen Dillane, Helen Basendale, David Hayman, Ptrick Malahide

DIRECTOR: Thaddeus O'Sullivans

PRODUCER: Jonathan Cavendish

SCRIPT: Gerry Stembridge

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dunn

EDITOR: William Anderson

MUSIC: Damon Albarn

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tony Burrough

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: September 7, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE (Sell-thru): August 14, 2002







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017