Ash Wednesday

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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Edward Burns, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Oliver Platt, Brian Burns
Director: Edward Burns

Ed Burns made several quirky movies as a fledgling underground director, made it to the big time with a memorable role in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, then turned his back on Hollywood after a couple of so so movies to be an indie king again.

Unfortunately for Burns, this is a so so indie movie. It’s so average in fact that it has been left on a shelf for several years awaiting a “quiet time”. Even at this point, riding on the back of the fact that its other star Wood has hit the big time with the excellent THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, it’s still a bit of a non-event. Also, because I’m a nice guy, I’ll point out again that this was made before THE LORD OF THE RINGS because Wood is simply awful, one of the most ineffectual turns in a major part I’ve seen in years. More plot holes riddle this film than the number of bullet holes left in the victims of the gangsters that populate this tale.

The plot, for what it is, has been used so many times that if it were a suite it would be too threadbare to give to Oxfam. It revolves around Ash Wednesday and is set in the Manhattan of the early 1980’s. The “human” element is built around a pair of Irish-American brothers (Burns and Wood) who become embroiled in a conflict with the Italian Mafia. The Mafia thought that Wood, who killed some important hit men who were in turn trying to kill his brother, was dead and are as shocked as the community when ‘the ghost’ of the supposedly dead brother turns up at his favorite ‘haunts’ around the same community he went missing from. The Mafia want to know if the sightings are fact or fiction and obviously if it really is the wanted man returning and will stop at nothing to make sure that he stays dead for real this time around. This sounds far more interesting than it is.

There are more ‘flaws’ in this film that a tower block. For example, the man in hiding blasts the TV from his brother’s apartment while the brother, who lives alone, is out. Bit of a give away that. He goes to his once local supermarket to buy something from the local gossip, orders a drink from his brother’s old motor-mouth girlfriend at the local bar and goes out in town, leaving his wallet in his brother’s apartment, the first place any gangsters will look for evidence, for all to see. This really does stretch anyone’s patience. Also add to the fact that Wood, one of the more unusual looking actors in Hollywood (which worked in his favour when chosen to play a Hobbit) thinks that because he’s not been around for 2 years (*that’s 2 years not 20 years) that no one will recognise him anymore, and doesn’t wear a disguise of any sort. Come on! Also, if someone had ordered Burns dead and those people sent to kill were in turn killed themselves, would the godfather or whoever just say, “ah just forget about it, we’ll let him stay around, that was a lucky break. Shame three of my best hit men are dead though”. Absolute bollocks.

That may be a very Irish swear word but nothing, not even Tarantino comes close to the amount of times the word f**k is used in this film. I counted out two separate minutes in the film, one in the first half and hour and one in the last half. The first time I counted 14 uses of the word in a minute. The second, it was used 8 times in 10 seconds. F**king hell that’s good going!

This really is a waste of a good director’s (and very, very good actor’s) talent. Burns should re-evaluate his choices and step up his game. He has excellent screen presence and should be up there with the best of them This is all a bit too much boulevard of broken dreams type stuff.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: As another critic said of the film and Woods performance after leaving the film: “It’s as dead as a Frodo”.

1 out of 6 stars
and that’s being f**king kind