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The Man With the Golden Feet

Brian Doherty/Dance Lord Productions

Blackbird (2022)

What is the point of being wealthy if not to do awesome things with your money? And what could possibly be more awesome than writing your own movie? Except maybe starring in it. And also directing it. And then also financing it, because no one else is as awesome as you. This is not a criticism, not in the slightest. It is completely and entirely delightful that Michael Flatley – you know, the guy who made “Riverdance” and then made squillions from it – decided to enjoy his retirement by writing, directing and starring in “Blackbird.” It is significantly better than any vanity project by a dilettante millionaire has the right to be. The movie was made in 2018 and only getting a release now; and it’s awful that we have been denied this joy for so long. This does not make the film any good, of course. But other critics can insult the gift horse by looking it in the mouth. The rest of us can enjoy every moment of the thing.

Victor (Mr. Flatley) is a former, and failed, secret agent – never mind the details – who now runs a hotel in Barbados with several of his former secret agent crew. One of their former colleagues, Vivian (Nicole Evans), was evidently awful at her job, because until she comes to this hotel on vacation, she has had simply no idea that her long-term fiancé, Blake (Eric Roberts), is not a humanitarian building hospitals for sick children. She is shocked – shocked! – to learn he’s really an arms dealer selling stolen secrets to “War criminals! In Africa!” Fortunately Mr. Roberts never met a leg of ham that he couldn’t out-act, and so, despite Victor’s repeated insistence that he’s not the man he used to be, a confrontation between the dastardly Blake and the righteous Victor is inevitable. But it’s also not really the point.

Of course it’s not. The point of “Blackbird” is that Mr. Flatley gets to wander around Barbados in an admirable variety of too-tight costumes and excellent hats stoically refusing to discuss his feelings. Not with the local priest (Bryan Samson) who keeps helpfully telling Victor to “get over” his past. Not with his club singer Maddy (Mary Louise Kelly), who over the course of the film shows him and us her right breast (but not the left), twice. And certainly not with his best friend Nick (Ian Beattie), who looks so rumpled he’s apparently been sleeping in the same clothes since the unspeakable event from 10 years ago, which is shown repeatedly in flashback. Like a lot. But despite all the resulting pain and anguish from said flashback, which has kept Victor a man alone (not counting all his friends and work colleagues, please) for all these years, Victor is drawn to Vivian. He can’t help it. Probably he remembers the short black cocktail dress she wears to the funeral in the movie’s opening sequence. (Roisin Straver, who did the costumes, when it came to Vivian, really outdid herself.)

There is not one thing in this movie with real human feeling or that makes a lick of genuine sense – it’s all cobbled together from other, better movies – but it’s all so outrageously entertaining it’s impossible to mind. It’s so stupid it’s not even offensive. There’s a sequence where Victor and Blake psychoanalyze each other in the middle of a poker game. Various henchmen commit various gratuitously violent murders. People loudly discuss their secret goings-on in the middle of a crowded restaurant. A man runs for his life into a church but still finds the time to snog a nun. And Vivian keeps changing her earrings, pausing for the camera to note the cut and carat of all her jewels, in between motivational chats to Victor about how he’s the only one who can stop this. You’ll be on tenterhooks. Can he stop it? And will he use the funniest tag line in some time as he does?

Well, is the Pope Catholic? There are even rumors of a sequel, which would be even more awesome. There are so many worse things a man can do with his money. Giving the world a gift of this calibre should only be encouraged.


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