REVIEW: Blackbird is a bad, bad, bad movie that I still very much enjoyed
Five years of rumours and whispers later, we can't believe it – Michael Flatley's movie finally arrives in cinemas this week.
There is an incredible one-liner in an episode of Futurama in which Bender is asked, "What's it like being a lawyer for the Mayor's Office and also the world's strongest millionaire?"
Blackbird is what happens if Michael Flatley heard that joke, didn't realise it was a joke, and then decided to make a movie out of it.
At several different points throughout the film, beautiful younger women throw themselves at him, wanted criminals detail how dangerous he is, and fellow secret agents take odd amounts of joy in recounting how he is the greatest and best and number one secret agent of all time to ever existed. You have no idea just how awesome this guy is!
In case you didn't already know, the movie is written by, produced by and directed by Flatley, who also takes the lead role of Victor Blackley (which, yes, rhymes with Michael Flatley), a retired secret agent with a tragic past living Humphrey Bogart's storyline in Casablanca, except his version is better because it takes place at a top-tier Caribbean resort that he happens to own. All is well until a woman (Nicole Evans) from his past arrives with her dangerous crime lord fiancé (Eric Roberts), which will drag
Flatley Blackley kicking and screaming back into the world of international espionage.
And by international espionage, we mean sometimes people will make a phone call to someone in London, but most of the time, we'll not actually leave this one hotel.
So, what we've got here is your run-of-the-mill vanity project, financed by a man with more money than self-awareness. You'd think this is the exact kind of movie Elon Musk or Donald Trump might make to star in themselves, but even they might have the wherewithal to get someone else - an actual screenwriter, say - to write the thing.
Flatley litters the script with some painful dialogue that not even Denzel Washington - indisputably the coolest actor alive - could reasonably deliver. And just to be clear, Flatley is no Denzel. "Who I am is none of your concern, and what I do is out of your control," he informs the villain, with all of the emotional intensity of a man who just took his insomnia medication.
And behind the camera, Flatley is no Spielberg.
Money was clearly spent on this production, but the smaller aspects are universally just a little bit ... off. During an early funeral scene, it is raining, but the rain setting is too high, so there are rivers of water pouring from Flatley's perma-tilted Panama hat. A top-secret weapon is discovered because it was left in an unlocked briefcase on the bad guy's bed. An attempt at a Thomas Crown Affair-esque raunchy dance sequence ironically falls flat(ley) because there is absolutely zero chemistry between the leads. The camera gets bored during the final shootout and pans away from the action entirely.
It is baffling, but despite itself, incredibly watchable. Like a car crash happening in slow-motion, you can't take your eyes off of it.
Aside from everything providing accidental entertainment, the only actual source of fun to be found is from Eric Roberts' performance, who seems to be the only one aware of the absolute dumpster fire happening around him. So he uses that as permission to chew great big holes in the scenery, completely showing up anyone who is unfortunate enough to be sharing a scene with him.
At a tight 90 minutes, even if your brain isn't wired to find the enjoyment in this particular brand of so-bad-its-good movie-making, you're at least graced with the knowledge that it doesn't last long.
But if you are looking for something that will potentially one day be ranked alongside The Room or Showgirls, then we've got some good news for you.
Blackbird arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday, 2 September.
Clip via Wildcard