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The General

The General (1998)



Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 3,247

My Rating

Movie Info

Hollyfield was a Dublin slum where the rejected, the derelict and the anti-social were housed. Young Martin Carhill grew up in a milieu where crime was the main occupation. He was sent to a correction school when caught stealing food for his family. Abused by priests and the police, he grew up with a resentment of authority. Throughout his adult life, Martin Carhillderived satisfaction from making fools out of authority figures. He organised a number of daring and carefully planned robberies,



John Boorman

Jul 20, 1999

Sony Pictures Classics

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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (9) | DVD (8)

I can no longer stomach the premise in so many Anglo-American crime pictures that mavericks are admirable simply because they're mavericks

May 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A movie that says more about the rebellious Irish psyche than a heap of overtly political pictures.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The General is a refined, traditional movie about a character who is never more traditional than when he imagines himself outside the law. It's a great paradox, but it barely comes alive on the screen.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gleeson is one of those rare actors who has an instinctive rapport with the audience from the moment he appears on-screen.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Boorman's film is shot in wide-screen black and white, and as it often does, black and white emphasizes the characters and the story, instead of setting them awash in atmosphere.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Before he was Mad Eye Moody, before he took Colin Farrell to the woodshed "In Bruges," before "The Guard," the great Irish actor Brendan Gleeson was the infamous Irish crook known as "The General."

June 11, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

The General is a welcome return to basics for Britain's most adventurous and visionary director, who has always stayed faithful to his love of cinema.

May 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4

The film has little of the visual dazzle often associated with Boorman's movies, but the somber, black-and-white cinematography helps even out the often larger-than-life tone.

May 1, 2012 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Enjoyable for what it is; problem is, what it is doesn't amount to much in the end.

May 3, 2009 Full Review Source:

An interesting, entertaining view into the life of an Irish crime legend who is almost a Robin Hood, but not quite.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Neither Boorman's cinematic expertise nor Gleeson's canny performance is enough to make us care about Cahill's destruction.

July 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

The most lyric crime picture since Band of Outsiders, with a sublime performance by Gleeson at its core.

July 4, 2004

The film glides on seriocomic wings and whisks us rapturously away. It ranks with Boorman's own classic crime film Point Blank (1967), and that's high praise.

July 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A well-made film, but a hard one to actually like.

February 3, 2003
New Times

The General is more character study than cops-and-robbers action drama.

January 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

It's too bad Marvin isn't still around, to at least knock some sense into his old friend, Boorman.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

The General is a great character study.

August 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

In The General, director John Boorman is back in top form.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

A notorious Irish crime lord serves as a mirror for the worst that is in others in this psychologically rich drama.

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

This probably wouldn't have been such a thought-provoking film if it hadn't been based on a true story.

January 1, 2001 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

an impeccably made film, stunningly photographed in black and white, and featuring powerful performances by the entire cast

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The General is something of a salute to Boorman's talents and to cinema in general, with great images and enough grunt to satisfy the hungriest cinephile.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for The General

John Boorman is an underrated director.
Tell me the creators of The Sopranos didn't screen this.

It's not perfect, in fact some of it is pretty tired - but it's got enough interesting stuff and Brendan Gleeson's portrayal of the Dublin crime cheiftan is powerful and exciting.
November 21, 2007

Super Reviewer

I thought the movie is about some military general. And quite a brave one for that matter, when the beginning describes him as a legend. Apparently, I was amazed when it turned out about some legendary Irish criminal who pulled out heists outwitting the legal authorities. While ruthless and mean to the rest of the world, Martin Cahill cared enough for his family. He even extended his generosity to his sister-in-law. The way he embarrassed the police authorities was a stroke of brilliance. Jon Voight, playing Ned Kelly, does fair enough as an Inspector who is now and again left in an embarrassing position by Martin as he seems to get a kick out of it. Brendan Gleeson portrays Cahill outstandingly. He's simply par excellence. However, his covering the face with one hand constantly caused me a bit of irritation initially. But after a while, I got used to it. How's one to know (if need be, let it be known that there are always exceptions) that the legendary Martin too used to do so for real. Quite an intriguing & worthwhile stuff, and that too based on real events. Sufficient & efficient enough for me. Might not have been so appealing with the foreknowledge about this incredible scumbag, infamously known as The General.
September 3, 2013

Super Reviewer

A criative screenplay and terrific direction, just like the acting, The General is a great motion picture. Fresh.
March 17, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

A thief, pursued by an old friend from the neighborhood, evades the cops and the IRA.
Brendan Gleeson is fantastic as the eponymous character; he's both awkward and wily, not looking the part of the thief but pulling it off believably. The rest of the supporting cast supports Gleeson admirably, but even Jon Voight doesn't deliver a stand-out performance.
The story is fairly basic -- a crime drama in which the criminal cleverly eludes his pursuers -- and I can't say that by the end of the film I cared about the characters. The film is so evenly presented that I wondered what it was saying. What is unique about this criminal that we haven't seen before besides his physique (compare Gleeson to George Clooney's Danny Ocean)?
Overall, there's not a lot to feel strongly about in this film except Gleeson's superb performance.
December 5, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • General, The (1998) (DE)
  • General, The (1998) (UK)
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