Michael Collins - * * * 1/2*

Michael Collins is a brilliant epic tale whose implications are felt even today. Liam Neeson stars as Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary in the early 20th century. After a series of unsuccessful conventional warfare attacks, the Irish Republican Army, under Collins’ instruction, begins to learn the unconventional tactics of modern guerilla warfare. However, will this dramatic step, crucial to Collins’ fight for a free republic at the time, end up hurting him in the long run? Meanwhile, he has to deal with his two friends: President of the Irish Republic Eamon De Valera (Alan Rickman), who has the political smarts that Collins lacks, and who resents the limelight that Collins’ actions steal. And Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn), Collins’ right-hand man, but both love the same woman, Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts). Liam Neeson does a superb job as the title character who must come to terms with the pandora’s box he opened. The supporting cast is also excellent, particularly Alan Rickman as De Valera. Kitty Kiernan is the only character that can’t quite stand on her own, for she’s used more as a plot device than as a person. Director Neil Jordan manages to hit all the right buttons as he guides this epic to fruition. My only qualm with Michael Collins is that it jumps a bit to hastily into the middle of the action. There’s very little historical background given to the film, and some issues (particularly the role of religion) are barely touched upon. Those without knowledge of these particular times and events may get lost at times, and no doubt could have used a larger perspective on the conflict. However, that aside, Michael Collins is an amazing work, examining an interesting subject, and pulling it off masterfully.

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