Michael Collins was a pivotal figure in Irish history and this film is a brave attempt to represent a story rarely told in the mainstream media by Neil Jordan.
Collins was the original “terrorist” and practically invented modern warfare employing guerrilla tactics and counter-intelligence to fight the British Empire to a standstill, a force against which he had no chance using conventional means. This resulted in the treaty of 1922 which saw the country divided for the next 80 years. Liam Neeson is excellent as the pragmatic and larger than life man of the people, and although the film inevitably is rather rose-tinted in it’s representation of the man – as all of these kinds of biopics are – Jordan’s brisk no-nonsense style is never pompous or preachy. The subject matter means that there is a lot more action than most political dramas; in fact it has more in common with The Godfather than Gandhi for the first half of the film. Even the romance with Julia Roberts who actually manages a very creditable attempt at an Irish accent is nicely down played and unsentimental.
Portraying yet more of the shameful acts perpetrated by the British government in its history Michael Collins is just as informative as it is entertaining, especially for those of an Irish heritage.