With the arrival of Ben Affleck’s new movie Live By Night due to arrive in Irish cinemas this weekend, we’ve decided to have a quick look back over all of the Gaelic Mobsters who have graced the big screen. You might not realise it, but the Emerald Isle has had more than its fair share of cinematic mob movies over the years, with some of the biggest and best of the last few years containing an Irish criminal element!
Based on an Asian series of movies called Infernal Affairs, it was translated to Boston (or is that Bawstawn?) by king of the gangster movies Martin Scorses, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson all involved in double and triple crosses with the Irish mob. It went on to win four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, and all these years later, there’s still talk of a potential spin-off sequel involving Mark Wahlberg’s avenging renegade copper (or is that cawhpah?).
GANGS OF NEW YORK
Scorsese again, but this time moving the action to New York (obvs!), and jumping back about 150 years. DiCaprio (again!) is the son of Liam Neeson, the leader of the Irish mob, who is viciously killed by the leader of the local New York gang, played with scary intensity by the unparalleled Daniel Day Lewis. Cameron Diaz is also involved as the woman caught between them both. The movie was nominated for ten Oscars, but this was the year that the Academy fell in love with musicals again (kinda like this year with La La Land), and all the biggies went to Chicago.
Live By Night isn’t the first time Affleck stepped both behind and in front of the camera to tell the story of a bunch of Irish criminals causing havoc. Last time he teamed with a killer cast – Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively – to play the leader of a gang who are orchestrating a string of high-profile heists, only for him to fall in love with the manager of one of the banks he has held up. Between this, Argo and Gone Baby Gone, it has already shown just how great a director Affleck really is.
ROAD TO PERDITION
We’re all used to Tom Hanks being pretty much the most loved actor in America (sorry Denzel, Big Will and Meryl, but he is), and here he got to show off a much different side to his range, playing the protective father on the run from the Irish mob in Prohibition-era Chicago. From the same director who brought is Skyfall and American Beauty, with a supporting cast including Daniel Craig, Jude Law and the final time we’d get to see the legend that was Paul Newman on the big screen, this was one of those crime epics that packed an emotional punch as strong as a tommy gun.
It was only last year that we were all completely terrified by Johnny Depp’s transformation into Whitey Bulger, the real life Boston-Irish mobster who turned FBI informant. We’re used to Depp getting lost in his roles, but this was something else entirely. And the cast of this film was off the scales amazing: Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgarton, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon and Peter Saarsgard to name just a few.
LIVE BY NIGHT
Affleck is back behind the camera (before he allegedly takes on directing the new standalone Batman movie), and in front too, playing the leader of a Boston-Irish mob during Prohibition Era, while his dad (played by our own Brendan Gleeson) is the chief of the local police. As you can guess, things are not going to end terribly well for this family. Elle Fanning, Chris Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Sienna Miller fill out the cast, with Affleck working from a book written by Dennis Lehane, the same guy behind Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River.
Live By Night is in Irish cinemas nationwide from Friday 13th January. Make sure not to miss what will surely become one of the classics of the Irish Gangster genre!