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Johnny Was
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10 from 1,504 votes
Release: 22 February 2006 (Ireland) /

Johnny Was

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Director: Mark Hammond,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Johnny Doyle escapes a violent past in Ireland to lie low in London, until his former mentor Flynn breaks out of Brixton Prison, hell bent on derailing the Irish peace process with a few well-placed bombs. Unable to escape Brixton, they are trapped together in Johnny's anything-but-safe safe house, sandwiched between a Rastafarian reggae pirate radio station upstairs and a West Indian 'Yardie' crack-dealing gangster, Julius, downstairs. As the charismatic Flynn finds common ground with the Yardies, Johnny fights to realize a peace process of his own, but makes the mistake of falling for Julius's girlfriend Rita, causing all-out war. A thriller in the vein of Lock Stock and The Long Good Friday, in which questions of race, morality, identity and loyalty play out against a great sound-track of reggae, rock, new wave and soul. Written by Anon

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Critic Reviews


What a complete surprise and what a great story. I went to the screening with a bunch of friends knowing virtually nothing about this other than the cast, which was very celeb-driven.

It looks like a little low key action movie, and in some ways it is, but the story, the quirky characters and the subject matter - about race, national identity and gangster morality - is much smarter than most of the britflicks of recent years. It is like a strange hybrid of Long Good Friday and dark almost comic-book B Movie, and the low key dialogue plays well against the violence in the background.

It completely pulled me in. Vinnie Jones had one foot in his usual hard-man act, but the other was as a much more thoughtful guy, running away from his past.

Patrick Bergin plays a larger than life veteran psycho and is responsible for most of the dark laughs. La Salle is great and the opposite of his old ER character. Talking with my friends afterwards, there was disagreement about Samantha Mumba the former pop singer. Some thought she was too low key, but I thought she played the character of a junkie gangsters girl very well. Everyone agreed that Vinnie and Lennox Lewis were the best performances. Old Rocker Roger Daltrey was also good in a smaller role.

Some of the action looked a bit wobbly, but London came out looking well, especially Brixton Market.

Our verdict: if you are looking for a big budget action movie, this isn't it. But if you are sick and tired of movies which are all flash and no substance, this one with its unusual settings and great characters that stay with you after the movie is over might be for you.

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