Valentino “Val” Fagan (played by Rob McCarthy) was named after Rudolph Valentino but he didn’t grow up to be a chivalrous lover, the type whose romantic eyes make hearts swoon. Instead, Val grew up to be a mobster, the head of the Irish mob. His eyes view the world with mistrust and anger. As he tells us in the cocky voice-over that runs through The Irish Mob, Dublin is his city. Whether its drugs, theft, or dealing weapons with the IRA, Val is involved.
However, it’s not easy being the boss.
For one thing, Val has the Garda after him. Detective Liz Delahunt (Pauline O’Driscoll) is obsessed with taking Val down. She’s got the wall of her office set up with one of those crazy charts that links Val and his associates to a series of unsolved murders throughout Ireland. Liz is clever and she’s determined. In one of the film’s funnier moments, she puts Val under a protection order so that he ends up with Detective Kevin Hogan (David Greene) following him around 24 hours a day and staking out his home. Whenever Val looks out of a window, Hogan gives him a friendly wave.
As well, the Corrigan Brothers, who are Val’s Amsterdam-based drug connections, have just lost a fairly large shipment of drugs and the money that they would have made from selling them. The Corrigans expect their associates to kick in to help make up for the loss and it’s pretty clear that failure to do so will lead to something not good happening. Val may be rich but he’s not that rich and he soon finds himself taking risks in order to raise the money. Right when it appears that Liz’s funding has been cut, one of Val’s brazen robberies leads to Liz being told that she’ll have all the money that she needs to pursue her case against Val.
Finally, there’s Dessie Corrigan (George Bracebridge), a monstrous sociopath who has just been released from prison and who is looking to get back into the Dublin rackets. A misunderstanding leads to Corrigan deciding that Val sold him out to the Garda. Corrigan soon starts to attack Val’s men and makes plans to come after Val himself. As with so many of the criminals in The Irish Mob, Corrigan is an idiot but he’s a very determined idiot. He’s also someone who can easily be manipulated by those looking to take over Dublin.
Val has his ways of dealing with the stress. He genuinely loves his son and comes about as close to being human as he probably can whenever he’s just being a father. Though he spends a lot of time fighting with his wife, he does have a mistress who he enjoys spending an hour or two with. And, of course, there’s always cocaine. The more stressed Val gets, the more he does. The more paranoid Val becomes, the more people he kills. It’s not easy being in charge but, as Val tells us, Dublin is his city,
Plotwise, The Irish Mob is a standard Mafia movie, complete with a philosophical voice over and scenes of random violence. Val reached his position of power by being smarter than everyone else but, now that he’s in charge, he’s forced to depend on people who are stupid, sadistic, and impulsive. Val thinks that he can control the cycle of violence but what he doesn’t understand is that the cycle controls him and not the other way around. Rob McCarthy gives a steely performance as Val and the Dublin locations give the film a gritty feel. Unfortunately, the plot itself doesn’t really feature many surprises and the film’s concluding twist, while being appropriately tragic, is still one that most audiences will see coming from a mile away. Then again, that may be the point. Val’s fate is as predestined as those who came before him and those who will come after him. In the end, the cycle just keeps repeating.
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