Friday, February 15, 2019

Donnybrook - Movie Review

The Movie: Donnybrook

The Director: Tim Sutton

The Cast: Jamie Bell, Frank Grillo, Margaret Qualley, James Badge Dale, Chris Browning, Pat Healy, Dara Tiller,

The Story: Two men prepare to compete in a legendary bare-knuckle fight where the winner gets a $100,000 prize.

The Review:
In the context of this movie, a Donnybrook is a cage fight involving a group of men where the winner receives a $100,000 prize. The story follows two men as they advance towards the event leaving a trail of brutality, criminal activity, drugs, alcohol, and gun shots in their wake. Jamie Bell plays Jarhead Earl, an ex-marine and the sort of anti hero of the story, who is looking at the prize as a way for his family to escape the poverty and dead end lifestyle of the American heartland. He embodies the strong, silent type of man who will do anything for his family, even if it means punching out a police officer to avoid having his journey derailed.

Frank Grillo is Chainsaw Angus, a drug dealer the villain of the story, and does everything he can to create a character who is completely focused in purpose and relentless in his quest for the prize. Over the course of the story, we learn very little about the man except that he will stop at nothing and will destroy everything and everyone in his path to reach his goal. Margaret Qualley is Chainsaw's sister Delia who is hanging on to her sanity by a thread as she contemplates whether or not she can escape the life she has been trapped in alongside her brother.

I will tell you right now this movie is brutal and can be disturbing to watch for many different reasons. There is a lot of blood and a body count that stretches from the beginning right up to the very end of the movie. Director Tim Sutton fills the movie, adapted from a novel written by Frank Bill, with a hopeless desperation and a willingness to let the characters live outside the law to get what they want. He keeps a feeling of dread and danger lingering over every scene and you never know who will survive from moment to moment.

The scene that epitomized the movie for me was right before the brawl was about to begin. The setting is in a large structure out in the backwoods of nowhere with dozens of people surrounding a cage filled with the various fighters. A leather jacket clad woman nearly makes it through her rendition of the national anthem when she stops to take a long drag on her cigarette before belting out the final lines of the song. As the crowd cheers, the fighters are signaled to begin and mayhem breaks out with fists and blood flying everywhere.

Donnybrook is a film the relies on its cast to deliver strong performances and they do just that. Bell plays his character perfectly, Grillo is about as bad ass as I've ever seen him, Qualley delivers what could be considered to be a breakout performance, and, behind the camera, Sutton delivers a dark, smoldering fire pit of violence that is constantly on the edge of exploding. There is no uplifting or hopeful messaging with this movie, it is a dark and brooding trip through the realities of middle America. If you feel like what I have described is something you can handle, I would highly recommend checking it out.

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