The rate that teams of mercenaries seem to run into ghosts, creatures and demons seems to be awfully high in cinema but I guess their jobs take them to some pretty dark corners of the world where anything could be lurking. In Steve Barker’s Outpost the dark corner is an abandoned WWII bunker in Eastern Europe, the team is a hard scrabble bunch led by Ray Stevensen and Richard Brake and the gathering menace is… well you’ll see.
This one is cool because these guys are essentially trapped between one bad scenario and a severely worse one. As bloody war rages above them on the surface, they descend deeper into this long forgotten bunker for refuge and discover that naturally they aren’t the only ones down there. For the most part it chooses atmosphere over gore as the menacing forces gradually encroach on them surrounded by ghostly mist and they realize that this is one right corner they can’t just shoot their way out of. Stevensen has a great stalwart screen presence and heads up this dirty dozen style posse nicely, while Brake also provides his usual sly charisma. There’s a sequel out there by the same director no less but I haven’t seen it so I can’t recommend yet. This however is a chilly good time, a serviceable action horror that doesn’t go too far overboard or become obnoxiously silly but reins it in just enough.
I’m not too sure just how much of Kill The Irishman is based in actual truth, but if even half of what we see on screen did happen, that is some pretty impressive shit. The film focuses on the life of Danny Greene (a bulked, sturdy Ray Stevenson), who was an Irish American mobster working out of Cleveland back in the 70’s, a guy who seems to have caused quite a stir of chaos amongst organized crime back then. Getting a leg up from the longshoreman’s union, Danny quickly rose to power alongside several other key figures including numbers man John Nardi (Vincent D’Onofrio), enforcer Joe Manditski (Val Kilmer) and nasty kingpin Shondor Birns (Christopher Walken). It seems it all went south pretty quick though, because before he knew it he was at odds with Birns, and dodging multiple brash assassination attempts coming at him from all directions. What’s remarkable about Danny’s story is his sterling resilience: something like over a dozen attempts were made on his life and the darn mick just kept on going, even taunting the underworld between car bomb blasts and raucous shoot outs. Of course, such a life alienates him from his wife (Linda Cardellini) and puts him in perpetual crosshairs, but Stevenson plays it casually cavalier, a gentleman gangster who really cares not for the danger he’s wading into, and treads lightly amongst the mess, making me wonder if the real Greene had such an attitude and the sheer luck to back it up. Walken is quiet and dangerous in a somewhat underplayed role, but he is entertaining doing anything, so it’s all good. The cast is enormous, and includes the like of Vinnie Jones as a bruiser of an Irish street soldier, Robert Davi in an explosive third act cameo as a lethal specialist brought in to neutralize Danny, and your usual kennel of Italian American character actors like Mike Starr, Bob Gunton, Tony Lo Bianco, Steve Schirippa, Paul Sorvino and others. It’s loud, fast paced and ever so slightly tongue in cheek. As a crime drama it works great, could have been slightly longer, but Stevenson keeps things moving briskly with his affable, hyperactive performance and it goes with out saying that the rest of them provide excellent supporting work.