While not in the same class as GoodFellas, this saga about Irish-American hoods in Hell's Kitchen during the 1970s is out of the same stable; and though sometimes monstrously violent, it's a hugely impressive piece of work for a young director previously known for his documentary U2 Rattle and Hum. The plot is familiar: youthful loyalty compromised, betrayal, kinship, ethnic rivalry, protection of territory, return to roots, revenge. More important is the visual impact of the film, which begins in a blur of motion and ends with a bloody St Patrick's Day shoot-out. But most impactful are the performances: the much underrated Penn as a prodigal returnee, Wright as the ghetto woman who moved up and away, Harris as the bossman, and - most astonishingly - Oldman showing the ferocity of a Joe Pesci, the aimlessness of a Mean Streets De Niro, and the sex-appeal of a pre-fight Mickey Rourke.
Cast and crew
John C Reilly