Michael Collins (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Michael Collins (1996)



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The rise and fall of one of the most important and controversial figures in Ireland's struggle for independence is chronicled in this biographical drama. In 1916, the British government ruled Ireland with a firm and cruel hand, as they had for 700 years. When a group of Irish rebels staged a six-day siege at Dublin's General Post Office, only one of the leaders was able to escape execution -- Eamon De Valera (Alan Rickman), an American citizen of Irish blood. A number of De Valera's followers are sent to prison, and one of them, Michael Collins (Liam Neeson), walked out of jail convinced that a new approach was needed to free his homeland from British rule. With his compatriot Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn), Collins formed the Irish Volunteers, who used a combination of terrorist violence and guerilla warfare to attack the British where their defenses were weakest, and employed espionage and a key inside informant (Stephen Rea) to learn what the British planned to do next -- and what they knew about Collins and his supporters. Collins' strategic skills and talent for warfare made a major impact on the British, and he became the hero of the new-born Republican Movement, which seemed to offer a real hope of freedom, despite the violent reprisals of the vicious paramilitary police, the Black and Tans. De Valera, however, was often in conflict with Collins in terms of the methods and approach of their struggle. Collins also found himself in a different sort of conflict with Boland when he fell in love with his girlfriend, a strong-willed advocate of Irish freedom named Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts). Eager to gain support for the Republican cause, De Valera sought economic and military support from the U.S.; when he returned, the Volunteers seemed to have finally won a real victory, as the British government announced that they were willing to formally negotiate with them. While Collins was once the radical and De Valera was the moderate, once negotiations began, Collins sought to end the violence that he saw killing so many young people and was willing to agree to a compromise that would create the Irish Free State. While the agreement would still leave final political control with the British, it would bring a greater self-determination to Ireland, and Collins believed that it was a crucial first step that could lead, in time, to true freedom for his people. De Valera, however, was strongly opposed to the treaty with Britian, and this led to violence among pro- and anti-treaty factions; soon Ireland's most loved leader was now branded a traitor by many of his countrymen. Michael Collins was voted Best Picture at the 1996 Venice Film Festival, and Liam Neeson was awarded the prize for Best Actor.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Neil Jordan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 27, 1997
Warner Bros.


Liam Neeson
as Michael Collins
Aidan Quinn
as Harry Boland
Stephen Rea
as Ned Broy
Alan Rickman
as Eamon De Valera
Julia Roberts
as Kitty Kiernan
Ian Hart
as Joe O'Reilly
Brendan Gleeson
as Liam Tobin
Stuart Graham
as Tom Cullen
Gerard McSorley
as Cathal Brugha
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
as Collins' Assassin
John Richard Ingram
as British Officer
John Kenny
as Patrick Pearse
Roman McCairbe
as Thomas McDonagh
Jer O'Leary
as Thomas Clarke
Michael Dwyer
as James Connolly
Martin Murphy
as Captain Lee-Wilson
Frank Laverty
as Sean McKeoin
Owen O'Neill
as Rory O'Connor
Liam D'Staic
as Austin Stack
Owen Roe
as Arthur Griffith
Paul Bennett
as Cosgrave
Claude Clancy
as Vaughan's Hotel Cler...
Paul Hickey
as Dublin Castle Soldie...
Tom Murphy
as Vinny Byrne
David Gorry
as Charlie Dalton
Gary Lydon
as Squad Youth No. 1
David Wilmot
as Squad Youth No. 2
Joe Hanley
as Squad Man No. 1
Colm Coogan
as Squad Man No. 2
Aiden Grennell
as Chaplain at Lincoln ...
Michael McCabe
as Journalist
Dave Seymour
as Lincoln Taxi Driver
Ian McElhinney
as Belfast Detective
Tony Clarkin
as Soldier on Station
Gary Powell
as Black and Tan on Lar...
Max Hafler
as Black and Tan on Lar...
Aidan Kelly
as Gresham Hotel Bellbo...
Brian "Joker" Mulvey
as Croke Park Hurler
Jim Isherwood
as Man Following Broy
Michael James Ford
as Black and Tan
Mal Whyte
as Officer in Bath
Martin Phillips
as Officer in Bed
Aisling O'Sullivan
as Girl in Bed
Malcolm Douglas
as Officer in Park
Brians 'Joker' Mulve...
as Croke Park Hurler
Frank Patterson
as Tenor in Restaurant
Peter O'Brien
as Pianist in Restauran...
Mike McCabe
as Journalist
Vinnie McCabe
as Speaker in the Dáil
Alan Stanford
as Vice-Consul McCready
Gary Paul Mullen
as Young Gunman
Barry Barnes
as Free State Soldier
Denis Conway
as Republican No. 1
Don Wycherley
as Republican No. 2
Paraic Breathnach
as Santry the Blacksmit...
Penguin Cafe Orchest...
as Orchestra in Restaur...
Ger O'Leary
as Thomas Clarke
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News & Interviews for Michael Collins

Critic Reviews for Michael Collins

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (10)

There are pain and honor in [Neeson's] performance, and they constantly rise up to redeem a film that is less probing, less thoughtful than its director's claims and aspirations for it.

Full Review… | March 28, 2010
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Intelligent, enormously accomplished and seriously problematic, Neil Jordan's ambitious account of the activities of arguably the central figure in Ireland's painful, bloody fight for independence from the British Empire has a great deal to offer...

Full Review… | January 23, 2009
Top Critic

This is Jordan's most ambitious and satisfying movie -- a thriller with a real sense of scale, pace, menace and moral import.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Played with great magnetism and triumphant bluster by Liam Neeson, the film's Michael Collins easily lives up to his nickname.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Handsome, but curiously cold, considering the emotional heat of Anglo-Irish matters. Fortunately, Liam Neeson commands almost every frame.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Jordan always had 6-foot-4 Liam Neeson in mind to play the man they called "the Big Fellow," and it's more than size that makes Neeson fit the part of a leader known for his "cloudburst temperament."

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Michael Collins


A sweeping and passionate epic of extroadinary power. It was as rousing, as brave, as strong and heartfelt as Braveheart. A true stand-tall classic. A triumphant and spectacular movie. This film is just pure excellence. Director, Neil Jordan`s masterpiece. It`s as inspiring as it is action-packed. An robustly entertaining and deeply moving film filled with action and drama. A vast, intelligent and superbly crafted picture. Liam Neeson gives one of the greatest performances of his career, he delivers power and emotion in such a memorable and wonderful way. Neeson is unfrogettable and tremendously effective. Alan Rickman is magnificent. Aiden Quinn is terrific.

Al S

Super Reviewer


Pretty good, but for such a man of passionate, a lot of the film felt rather vapid. Maybe Aiden Quinn hung around the set too long and depressed everyone. It doesn't seek to probe, or examine the motivations of the players involved. Which for me is a bit of a dissapointment. Also, Roberts is terrible in this film.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Although the actors are great, and do a good job, you really need to understand the issues in this story to understand the movie. It's based on real people and events, which I know very little about, and this movies doesn't do much to help you understand them.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

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