Title – Black ’47 (2018)
Director – Lance Daly (Life’s a Breeze)
Cast – Huge Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Jim Broadbent
Plot – Set during the great famine of Ireland in 1847, solider Feeney (Frecheville) is hunted down by the ruthless Hannah (Weaving) after he returns home and seeks retribution against those that have wronged his people.
“There are those who look forward to the day when a Celtic Irishman is as rare in Ireland as a Red Indian in Manhattan”
Review by Eddie on 19/02/2019
Utilising a setting and time that is not often the foundation of a movie set-up, Black 47 takes place in an intriguing time of Irish history during the detrimental potato famine and time when the country was still under the poorly organised rule of the British Empire but Lance Daly’s film struggles to do much else of note in an otherwise by the numbers revenge tale that fails to engage on an emotional level.
Filmed with a bleak and no doubt very deliberate grey palette, Black 47 is an oppressive and depressive tale of Irish born turned British Soldier Feeney who returns home to a land that has been decimated by both nature and mankind and sets out on a path of vengeance to right the wrongs that have been committed against his people, setting things in motion for a relatively by the numbers affair that won’t surprise any viewer who has ever witnessed a similar affair.
We learn very little about Feeney, played without much sign of life by Australian actor James Frecheville, who has once more struggled to top his debut performance from classic Australian crime film Animal Kingdom from 2010, other than the fact we know his a bit of an old school Irish Rambo, taking down platoons of soldiers on his quest to fight for the oppressed and be a symbol of gun wielding hope in a nation that lacked any such thing.
With virtually no backstory to Feeney’s tale it’s hard to care to much about his vengeance for those we don’t know with Daly’s tale only showing signs of life when interactions between Feeney and Hugo Weaving’s British employed bounty hunter Hannah take place, which is often too few and far between.
It’s a double act that would’ve served Black 47 well if it had had more screen time allocated to it, as Weaving is always a solid screen presence and with his skillset at his disposal, he was the best chance the film had of bringing Feeney to life also. In these two men we have two determined and in many ways men with righteous causes that has interesting interplay to showcase and offered Daly’s film the best chance it had of breaking out of a relatively by the books proceeding, that makes this somber event more of a chore than an enjoyment to sit through.
Final Say –
Unfortunately for Black 47, a unique setting and potentially potent play-off between two determined men is lost on rather generic procedural that lacks the imagination or heart to be anything more than a minor distraction.
2 hungry mobs out of 5