A middle-aged Irish farmer, who still lives at home with his mother, sets off on a mission of revenge when the old lady is murdered.
“Bad Day for the Cut” is a top-notch thriller. More movies like this need to come out of my homeland and it’s one of many reasons why I left Ireland back in 1994 to come to the United States, the “Irish film industry” was a joke and the majority of films being made were never heard of outside the British Isles. Over the years, however, filmmakers like Neil Jordan, Alan Parker, John Carney, Martin McDonagh and many more have helped reshape Irish cinema into a more global affair rather than clichéd “Oirish” characters and stories that for the longest time, never managed to get off the Emerald Isle.
Director Chris Baugh deliberately takes his time setting up the film’s characters and story. Instead of answering every question that the movie asks right away, like so many other filmmakers do, afraid that their audience might lose interest, Mr. Baugh toys with everything, hinting at answers along the way but giving them to you when he’s good and ready. This has a very American feel to it, with an ambiance that feels more inspired by the American thriller but with a decidedly Irish flavor and it’s about time that filmmakers, especially Irish filmmakers, begin to branch out into a genre that is downright perfect for Ireland.
Donal (Nigel O’Neill) is a middle-aged farmer who lives in the Northern Ireland countryside with his mother Florence (Stella McCusker). He’s never been married and has no children and takes care of his mother every day. One night, after drinking one too many beers, he passes out in the barn and has a nightmare where his mother shouts out for his help. He quickly wakes up and rushes to the house only to see a tall strange man get into a car that quickly drives off. When he enters the house, he discovers his mother’s lifeless body on the living room floor, her head having been bashed in. Some time goes by and Donal tries to adjust to living by himself for the first time in his life but one night, he hears noises coming from the barn and when he goes to investigate, he comes across two masked men with guns. After a failed attempt at trying to hang him, Donal manages to get the upper hand, knocking one of them out and killing the other.
He hits the road in his van and brings Bartosz (Józef Pawlowski), the second masked man, along with him. The two men begin to bond when Donal realizes that Bartosz is not a very good hitman and that he is doing what he’s doing because the bad guys, the people who killed his mother, are holding his sister hostage, and have forced her into a life of prostitution. They make their way to an abandoned pub in the city, where Bartosz is supposed to check in and they take Gavigan (David Pearse), one of the gang’s leaders hostage. Donal wants to know why his mother was killed and when Gavigan refuses to talk, Donal inflicts his own brand of torture on him. Bartosz claims that if Donal will help him rescue his sister, they will help him track down the gang’s leader, Frankie (Susan Lynch), the person who authorized his mother’s assassination but as he gets more and more involved, he slowly ascertains that his mother had a questionable history and that some of her past actions led directly to her being killed in cold blood.
The movie takes its time unfolding and nothing, and no one, appears to be who they really are, everybody has secrets and hidden agendas and this makes the story even more intriguing. Thankfully, director Chris Baugh never succumbs to excessive twists or plot points, instead, he lets his actors tell the story and everything that transpires is believable and authentic. By the end of the film, we are left with a grim resolve, and even though certain aspects that we hope will happen, especially to the bad guys, actually do, when it’s all said and done, there’s no great feeling of satisfaction or gratification, just loss, and the thought of what could have been.
Now available on Blu-ray & DVD