A deserting soldier hunts down the Englishmen responsible
for his family's death during Ireland's Great Famine.
Black '47 (2018)
Directed by Lance Daly
Written by Lance Daly, P.J. Dillon, Eugene O'Brien, Pierce Ryan
Starring Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea,
Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Jim Broadbent
I was highly intrigued about a film that detailed the Irish Great Famine, known to most as the Irish Potato Famine. It's a period of world history that isn't often adapted to film. However, Lance Daly's historical fiction Black '47 is not the definitive story. It's essentially an Irish Braveheart with a bit of 19th century John Wick thrown in to try and appease the audience. But it doesn't work, mostly because the story is so dull and the focus is put on the wrong character. Despite this being a tale of revenge led by Feeney (Frecheville), the deserting soldier, most of the film is focused on Hannah (Weaving), the English interrogator who is wrestling with his conscience. That's all well and good, but the two stories don't mesh well, and it seems like these two are thrown together in the end with no real story-driven reason.
Feeney is an Irishman who is drafted into the English army to assist in their world-conquering. When Ireland is devastated by famine, he deserts to be with his family. He returns to find they're all dead by the hands of Irish-hating Englishmen, so he goes full Wallace and hunts them down. But that's only a third of the movie. The rest follows Hannah, an interrogator who killed his prisoner and is facing a death sentence for it. He's set loose to find Feeney, but soon thinks that Feeney's fight might be more justified than he initially thought. Maybe Weaving should've played Feeney, considering he got top-billing anyway.
Black '47 would've been better suited as a tried and true biopic. Tell the real story of the Great Famine, not a fictional revenge thriller that only touches on the real historical event. I see real potential here, but it's overshadowed by a boring script and a host of one-dimensional characters.