FILM REVIEW: BLACKBIRD
Release Date: 22nd September 2022
Directed by: Michael Flatley
Cast: Michael Flatley, Eric Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Nicole Roberts
Screenplay by: Michael Flatley
Cinematography: Luke Palmer
``a masterpiece of bad cinema``
Arriving from the prestigious Dance Lord Pictures and passing through a time tunnel from 2018 (via 1950s gender stereotypes), Blackbird is Michael “Golden God” Flatley’s gift to us, his chosen people. Who can say what we’ve done to deserve such generosity?
Flatley’s Victor Blackley (as in Blackbird, see?) is a super-secret agent-stroke-hotelier. Victor is a man of many hats. Quite literally. He has a flat cap for when he’s lifting things, a black fedora for funerals in the rain, and a straw panama hat for when he’s driving his sexy white convertible. Blackbird could be the first movie ever that required a hat wrangler. Flatley wears all of these hats cocked at a jaunty 45 degree angle, oozing all the casual, easygoing air of Gal Gadot’s “Imagine” video. Where Flatley has picked up this affectation, I cannot say, but it’s truly mesmerising.
Anyway, Victor just wants to be left alone with his tortured grief for his dead wife, and to run his hotel in peace. Because he really loves that hotel. I’ve never seen a thriller that spends so much time dealing with the day-to-day practicalities of running a hotel. Most of what happens in the first 25 minutes involves Flatley and his staff discussing when Eric Roberts is arriving, and what room he’s going to be staying in (he’s being put in “The Infinity Suite”, in case you were wondering).
But Victor just can’t be left alone with his tortured grief and his hotel, because everyone keeps asking him to do “the thing” again. “Please do the thing again Victor. You must do the thing one more time” they all say. “I’m not doing the thing again, I don’t do the thing any more” he replies through his tortured grief. But then Eric Roberts shows up with some top secret baby formula that does something bad, and he’s going to sell it to some stereotypical Middle-Eastern villain types, so Victor has no choice but to do “the thing” again.
Until Jean Butler writes and directs a rom-com, I can safely say that Blackbird is the best movie I’ve ever seen that was written, produced, directed and starring an ex-cast member of Riverdance.
To be fair, Blackbird certainly looks like a movie. This is not The Room, which was a 99-minute mental breakdown. And at the very least, Blackbird is watchable. I have proven that. But who would want to? It’s a safe bet that there are actors in this movie who don’t want to see it. Blackbird may well have a future alongside The Room and Plan 9 from Outer Space in a worst-films-ever season, but really, who is going to lay down 15 quid to willingly and knowingly watch something so genuinely appalling?
It will come as a shock to no one to discover that Flatley cannot act for toffee. No surprise there if you’ve ever seen him interviewed and trying to act like a normal human being. But even taking Flatley out of the equation completely, this is still a masterpiece of bad cinema. The smart move for Flatley would have been to surround himself with people who can act. But he has cast Eric Roberts. Angela Lansbury is one of the longest working actors in the business with over 112 listed credits. Eric Roberts has 697. And over 100 of those are either currently filming or in pre-production. The man will appear literally anywhere, for anything, at any time. Eric Roberts may well be in your house at this very moment. Be afraid.
You can almost pinpoint exactly when Flatley’s development as a cultural citizen ceased. It’s like the last 50 years never happened. There are two blatant influences that he steals for this very expensive wish fulfilment fantasy. The first is Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. It’s surprising his hotel isn’t called “Flatley’s Café American” instead of “Blue Nun” or whatever the hell it was called. The second influence is very obviously James Bond. But it’s not the cool Daniel Craig Bond. It’s the 20-years-too-old Roger Moore in A View to a Kill. This is James Bond as played by Alan Partridge.
The only conceivable way that Blackbird could have worked was if Flatley possessed the self-awareness to send up his public persona with a comedy. And Blackbird is full of unintentionally funny bits, like Flatley sweating around the jungle doing secret agent stuff while wearing a puffy leather aviator jacket, or Flatley taking confession and speaking as Gaeilge to a Mancunian priest. Or the hats. My god, the hats. But Flatley doesn’t have an ounce of self-awareness. Blackbird is deadly serious, po-faced claptrap from beginning to end. The sheer mind-boggling hubris of the man is simply staggering. Who can say what planet Flatley is living on, because it’s not Earth. The questions must be asked. How did Flatley ever think that this was a good idea, and why did nobody tell him that it wasn’t?