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The General

Dublin, the 1980s and '90s. Martin Cahill (Gleeson) is forever a few steps ahead of the police, cocking a snook at all the authority figures he's detested since a childhood in the slums, defined by poverty, petty crime and priestly abuse. Determined to get his man, Inspector Ned Kenny (Voight) nevertheless views him with grudging respect, but it's only when he arranges full time surveillance that Cahill's loyal gang begin to buckle under pressure; even then, the self-styled Godfather can probably count on the support of his wife (Kennedy), her sister (Ball), his right-hand man Noel (Dunbar), and an amused, hero-hungry public, so that his pranks and perversions of justice go unpunished. But how long can he get away with refusing to hand over a portion of his spoils to the IRA? Boorman's energetic account of Cahill's real-life escapades (from the book by Paul Williams) is notable for its deft characterisations and authenticity: while Cahill's sentiments and actions are appreciated as the exploits of a canny born rebel, we're never allowed to forget that he's also volatile, violent and, whatever his feelings for his family, ultimately self-obsessed. All the performances are impressive, but Gleeson and Voight are especially memorable, lending an almost tragic air of inexorability to Cahill and Kenny's cat-and-mouse games.

Release details

Duration: 124 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Boorman
Screenwriter: John Boorman
Cast: Jon Voight
Maria Doyle Kennedy
Brendan Gleeson
Adrian Dunbar
Angelina Ball
Sean McGinley
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