Brendan Gleeson and Peter McDonald in I Went Down (1997)


(director: Paddy Breathnach; screenwriter: Conor McPherson; cinematography: Cian de Buitlear; editor: Emer Reynolds; cast: Brendan Gleeson (Bunny Kelly), Peter McDonald (Git Hynes), Peter Caffrey (Frank Grogan), Tony Doyle (Tom French), David Wilmot (Anto), Antoine Byrne (Sabrina Bradley); Runtime: 107; Buena Vista; 1997-Ireland)

“This Irish crime charmer has the gift of gab.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This Irish crime charmer has ‘the gift of gab.’ It’s a shaggy-dog type of story, filled with colorful characters and the scenic splendor of the Irish countryside. The film should be valued for its amusing dialogue, despite the difficulty in understanding what is being said because of the thick brogues.

Just out of prison for a petty crime he didn’t do, the taciturn Git Hynes (Peter McDonald) comes to the rescue of his friend Anto (Wilmot) in a pub where he is visiting his former girlfriend. Anto is about to have his fingers smashed by the henchmen of Dublin crime boss Tom French (Doyle). Why Git comes to the rescue, since his girlfriend from childhood Sabrina Bradley (Byrne) has left him while he was in prison for Anton, is not clear. Maybe, he’s just a good guy, or a bit naive, or perhaps he is a bit short on smarts. But this rescue of his friend, cannot go unpunished. He is asked by the crime boss to make up for his indiscretion by going to Cork to bring back Frank Gorgon (Caffrey) with the money that he owes Tom. This brings him together with a professional gangster who is also in debt to crime boss Tom, the flamboyant ex-con Bunny Kelly (Gleeson). Bunny’s wife has left him, which is about the only other thing he has in common with his much younger partner. The crime boss explains that the two as partners can keep an eye on each other, so this way they can blame the other if the job is a bollix.

Bunny is a first-class character and screw up, who pictures himself as a know-it-all. When he pulls into the gas station he can’t open the fuel cap in the car he stole and gets peeved at Git for watching him, saying he always gets nervous when someone is watching. Having a craving for chocolates, he decides to stick-up the gas station to get some candy.

In Cork, they rescue Frank from a gang holding him. Frank turns out to be quite a character himself. The boys don’t know if what he is telling them is true or not, as he begs to be let go. Since they have no idea of what is really going on they decide to do just as French wants, but Git insists that he will not let Frank get killed. Bunny teaches Git incorrectly how to use the gun, but that turns out to be no big problem for the two lucky Irishmen.

The two manage to bring Frank back to Dublin. There are a lot of sudden twists in the story that keep you guessing as to what happens next. The three men try to get to know one another, but any real relationship with the blarney talking Frank is out of the question. But Bunny and Git form a warm and surprising friendship, as they are trying to figure out Tom French’s plan. The violent conclusion is done with style and adds balance to the comic mood the film set. It is a rather cheerful film–despite the violence, the lowlife characters, and all the peat bogs the duo come across. It also has something nice to say about being loyal as opposed to being greedy. Its ethics are blurred by what society considers right and wrong, but by going over that line of decency the film gains most of its charm.