The General (1998)

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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, gaining the sobriquet, 'The General'. Hollyfield was a no-go area for the police and the fierce loyalties of its inhabitants protected Cahill. However, at the behest of his wife Frances and her sister Tina, he bought a house in the middle class district. He then came under the scrutiny of tax officials. He over-reached himself when he and his gang stole paintings from Russborough House. With public and political pressure mounting, the police started a surveillance operation headed by Ned Kenny, a man who admired Cahill but was determined to break him. His potent mix of violence and humour and generosity made him a legend in his lifetime, a legend that has grown largely since his death.

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Critic Reviews for The General

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (11)

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…

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

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Variety
Top 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.

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

Gleeson plays Cahill as an ordinary man who does this stuff because he's good at it.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

The black-and-white tones (shot on color stock) are so rich that the ski masks of burglars wind up looking like velvet.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/5

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.

Jan 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for The General

½

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

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

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.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

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.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

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