Michael Collins Reviews
Michael Collins clearly has a lot of ground to cover, and its resolution to that issue is largely to rush through everything. Though the film gives an appropriate historical context at the start of the story, it doesn't build up much from there. There are a lot of character and plot dynamics to take in with Michael Collins, but it doesn't exactly give viewers the appropriate amount of time to take it all in. The film rushes through so much that the overall focus ends up somewhat scattered, unable to decide whether it wants to be a biographical piece about Neil Jordan or a large scale piece about the rise of the Irish against the British. As a result, the balance is a little rusty and the film succeeds as a spectacle at best. There are so many plot points to comprehend, and though there is a lot of running time and the film gets through its plot points fairly well during them, there is a constant sense of jumping in the structural integrity of the film. There is never really a chance to transition into the drama as the film just jumps straight into it before jumping into another one the next moment, creating a pace which doesn't work alongside the large quantity of plot points being fit into the film.
However, even though there is a lot to keep up with in Michael Collins, the work of director Neil Jordan cannot be ignored. Working with the subject matter of the IRA once again, Neil Jordan works to make Michael Collins a very personal piece. Though the storytelling is not perfect, Neil Jordan ensures that all the heroism and suffering is captured with a strong screenplay of his own. From there, he knows exactly how to dramatise things appropriately. Ensuring that the cast brings out the best in his brilliant screenplay and packing the film with his iconic sense of style, the feeling is truly achieved. The musical score is key in capturing the intense mood of events because it elevates the drama of them to be up on a significantly higher scale which emphasizes the extent of their actions and the resulting repercussions.
He also stages the film to be an intensely dedicated feature in terms of technical aspects. The visual experience of Michael Collins is magnificent. Neil Jordan has a real knack for being able to create a very grim atmosphere through his visual style. Given a budget of $25 million, Neil Jordan effectively puts s much extensive effort into ensuring that the production design of the film is 100% legitimate. The props and locations do a flawless job creating the historical context for Michael Collins, and the cinematography works to capture it all with exceptional detail. The cinematography is one of the best assets of Michael Collins due to the fact that it uses a versatile collection of techniques which capture the facial expressions of the characters close up during the more dramatic moments of the film as well as emphasizing the massive scale of events with plenty of wide angles. The fact that the cinematography scored an Academy Award nomination should explain it all.
And beneath the spectacle of the film is a truly talented cast.
Liam Neeson takes an incredibly strong stance as the lead in Michael Collins. Essentially, it seems like a role he was born to play because unlike in many of his Hollywood roles, he does not have to hide his normal Irish accent this time. Instead, he lets it flourish for Michael Collins and as a result he effectively comes off as a convincing everyman and a larger than life hero at the same time. Liam Neeson's voice is his strongest asset playing Michael Collins because the authenticity of it is difficult to ignore. And from there, Liam Neeson puts all his strength into capturing a perfect dramatic tone of line delivery which he achieves with absolute tenacity. Liam Neeson is incredible in bringing the spirit out of Michael Collins because he is so determined in the role, delivering a level of passion that matches up to the standard of his finest work and raising the standard of the entire film in the process. Liam Neeson is a perfect casting decision for Michael Collins, effectively illuminating the heroism of the man without neglecting a depiction of his faults and weaknesses as a human being in a thoroughly strong balance.
Alan Rickman is also excellent. Known for his strong voice articulation, Alan Rickman brings that skill across to Michael Collins with powerful articulation. Like Liam Neeson, nearly all the strength of Alan Rickman's performance lies in the way he speaks since he does so with such incredulous power that easily wins over the attention of the surrounding characters and the audience. The character development is consistent, and Alan Rickman's consistent genuine projection in the role is seriously powerful. Alan Rickman sinks his teeth into the universe around him to play Eamon De Valera and shares a tight chemistry with the other actors, particularly in his intense moments with Liam Neeson.
Steven Rea makes a strong dramatic addition to Michael Collins, working easily with Neil Jordan once again during his small time on screen as well as Aidan Quinn. Julia Roberts adds a strong supporting presence as well, and her accent is flawless. The presence of a young Brendan Gleeson is also a nice touch.
So Michael Collins may have a story which is very packed and not take enough time to appropriately tell it all, but with the airtight leading performance from Liam Neeson at some of his finest combined with the tenaciously dramatic and stylish direction from Neil Jordan, the film ends up as a powerful and honourable spectacle of the Irish civil war.