The General

on February 05, 1927 by Ed Scheid
   In "The General," director John Boorman is back in top form. Boorman received his second Cannes Best Director Award for this story of Irish master thief Martin Cahill, shot in sharp black-and-white images.
   The film opens with Martin Cahill's murder in Dublin in 1994, a death which is applauded by the police. The film then flashes back to Martin's youth. Young Martin ("The Butcher Boy's" Eamonn Owens)'s petty thefts are encouraged by his neighbors as a way to fight back at the authority of the police. The grown Martin (Brendan Gleeson) moves on to bigger things, planning ingenious and increasingly outrageous robberies. He becomes a folk hero referred to as "The General." Cahill stands up to all authority-the police, the church, and most dangerously, the IRA. Even his personal life is without constraints: He fathers children with both his wife (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and her sister (Angeline Ball).
   The story arc is familiar, but "The General" gets extra life from Boorman's extremely accomplished direction. Boorman captures both Cahill's unique personality as well as the various conflicts he faced throughout his life. Boorman adeptly mixes humor along with the crime and violence, showing how "The General" is able to manipulate everything to his advantage. The film perfectly demonstrates Cahill's recklessness, confidence and audacity by showing him committing robberies while the occupants are still at home. Brendan Gleeson is charismatic as Cahill, and Jon Voight, who starred in Boorman's classic "Deliverance" in 1972, brings a strong, authoritative presence to the supporting performance of the police chief who is determined to apprehend Cahill. Gleeson's scenes with Voight are the high points of the film.    Starring Brendan Gleeson, Adrian Dunbar, Sean McGinley and Jon Voight. Directed, written and produced by John Boorman. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Rated R for violence and pervasive language. Running time: 124 min.
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