The General (1998)

Imdb Ranking 7.2

"All the events depicted in this movie occurred and contributed to the legend of Martin Cahill AKA THE GENERAl"

Dublin, Ireland 18th August 1994

The movie opens with Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) coming out of his house, and a man runs across the lawn and shoots him in his car. His wife comes out of the house screaming and we then see the police celebrating when yhen hear the news.

We then flashback to Martin Cahill as a young man, running from the police. He drops the stolen potatoes on his living room floor. He next is running with a pig on his back, but runs right in to a policeman. We next see him, a a roomful of boys, being whipped on their bare buttocks by a priest. That night the priest comes for Martin and when he resists his advances and the priest beats him.

Flash forward twenty years and Martin's wife is talking to him across the glass in the prison reception area. When he gets out his four children come running to him. He is also greeted by Inspector Ned Kenny (John Voight) who counsels him to get out of the place, this cesspit, for the good of his children, but Martin blows him off.

Like any other father Martin heads off to work, only his work is breaking in to people's houses. Martin does pretty well and agrees to buy a new house for his wife. He brings in cash to get a bank note for 80,000 pounds and then he has some of his men rob the bank to get his cash back.

Martin and his men rob everything in sight and then jump on their motorcycles and head down alleys where the police can't follow. Matin gets caught in an armed robbery and is facing twelve years. He decides to get one last big hit, the O'Connors jewellery factory.

The doctor who was going to testify on forensic evidence against Cahill turns on his car and it blows up. Cahill and his men then pull off the big heist at O'Connors and then Martin beats the rap on his last arrest. The neighborhood women come up and ask Martin for things and he doles them out : he says it is his way of paying taxes.

When one of his men cheats him, he nails his hands to the pool table. When the man doesn't talk under extreme pain Martin decides the man is innocent and brings him to the hospital.

The IRA then wants to talk to Martin. They tell Martin that some of his men are selling drugs and they are going to stop them. They also tell him that they want half of his last big haul but Martin tells them that he will give them nothing.

When people take to the street and march against drug sellers, they go to Martin's friend and tell him that they are kicking him out of his apartment. They give him two days to get out. When the protesters come back two days later, Martin leads a group of concerned criminals against drugs and chases the group away.

Martin and his men break in to a museum and steal priceless works of art of 17th century Dutch masters. He goes back later for them with his friend Noel and they cut the pictures out of the frames.

Cahill is under police surveillance around the clock. He then sells some of his pictures to Loyalists up north who will use the profits to buy weapons. The guards tell him that when the IRA finds out what he did they will get him. When of his men molests his own daughter, Martin tries to buy off the man's family so they won't testify against him. Things are beginning to close in on him.

The police seem to pull their surveillance off and Martins goes out o his car. A gun man runs up and shoots and kills him. Were the police in on it?

A different kind of movie. Martin cheats on his wife but she knows about it and seems to approve of it. Martin;s other wife, with whom he also has children, is his wife's sister. Another scene in the movie that is kind of interesting is Martin stealing a gold record off the wall of a house he is burglarizing. In real life, Cahill is supposed to have stolen director John Boorman's gold record, that he received for Deliverance.

The movie made Martin Cahill very likable, in much the same way that Goodfellas, The Departed and The Godfather made their criminals sympathetic. By presenting the movie from Martin's point of view we come to identify with him. Even though we know he is a vicious criminal who will nail a person's hands to a pool table we still kind of cheer for him.

A very good movie, although it is a little too long, with great acting by Brendan Gleeson and John Voight. __


Irish Film and Television Awards
Best Actor in a Male Role Brendan Gleeson
Best Feature Film

,br> The real Martin Cahill was at the pinnacle of Dublin's organized crime structure during the late-'80s and early '90s. Cahill was reputed to have been heavily involved in the drug trade (an assertion that Boorman's film disputes) and was known for nailing men's hands to a pool table when they wouldn't talk. By all accounts, he was also a lively, fun-loving man who could charm with a smile. Unlike American gangsters, Cahill did not leave a trail of bodies in his wake - his criminal activities were more in the line of burglary and theft than murder. (In real life, Boorman's house was once supposedly robbed by Cahill's gang.) Eventually, perhaps for selling rare artwork to members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, Cahill ran afoul of the IRA, and, in 1994, they assassinated him. That event bookends The General; the movie begins and ends with it.