Young Martin Carhill (Eanna McLiam) grew up in a Dublin slum, where crime was the main occupation. He was sent to a correction school when caught stealing food for his family and grew up with a resentment of authority. In his adult life, Martin Carhill (Brendan Gleeson) organised a number of daring and carefully planned robberies, gaining the sobriquet, \'The General\'. Though ruthless, irreverent and quick-tempered, Cahill was in many ways a surprisingly conventional man. He didn’t drink or smoke, and he was a loving if unconventional husband, living with both his wife Frances (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and her sister Tina (Angeline Ball). But Cahill’s brazenly defiant attitude made him many enemies, and finally both the police – led by Sergeant Ned Kenny (Jon Voight) – and the IRA set out to hunt him down.

This film highlights why John Boorman is a cinematic master.

On August 18, 1994, in a suburb of Dublin, Martin Cahill, nicknamed The General, was assassinated outside his house. John Boorman`s film begins with the death of its principal character, and then proceeds to unfold the story of his life.

Cahill, Brendan Gleeson, endured a rough working-class upbringing and quickly established himself as a professional burglar, though he maintained a wary friendship with Ned Kenny, Jon Voight, a local cop. Cahill wasn`t afraid to make enemies; he defied the religious conventions so much a part of Irish society by having children both by his wife, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and sister-in-law, Angeline Ball. He even made an enemy of the IRA, by doing deals with the loyalists...

This magnificent film from John Boorman, which deservedly won him the Best Director award in Cannes last year, juggles affectionate humour with a more serious tone in unfolding this biography. Cahill was obviously a man of many faces - he could be charming and funny, but he could also be brutal and ruthless. Gleeson is amazingly good in the role (so is young Eamann Owens from The Butcher Boy who plays Cahill as a child), and Boorman`s bold decision to film in black and white is fully justified by the gritty approach to this contemporary Irish saga.