Ordinary Decent Criminal

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Ordinary Decent Criminal
DVD case cover for Ordinary Decent Criminal
Directed byThaddeus O'Sullivan
Written byGerard Stembridge
Produced byJonathan Cavendish
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byWilliam M. Anderson
Music byDamon Albarn
River Road Entertainment
Tat Film
Little Bird
Trigger Street Productions
Distributed byIcon Entertainment International
Release dates
  • 7 January 2000 (2000-01-07) (Ireland)
  • 21 January 2003 (2003-01-21) (U.S.)
Running time
93 minutes
  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • United States [1]
Budget$10 million[2][3]

Ordinary Decent Criminal is a 2000 crime comedy film, directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan, written by Gerard Stembridge, and stars Kevin Spacey and Linda Fiorentino. The film is loosely based on the story of Martin Cahill, a famous Irish crime boss.[4]

Filmed in late 1998 and originally scheduled for a fall 1999 release, the movie was put out overseas first the following year but it never got a proper theatrical release in the United States, where it was released straight to video in January 2003, almost five years after filming began.


Michael Lynch is one of Dublin's most notorious criminals. He has two wives, sisters Christine and Lisa, as well as many children. When he is not spending time with his family, he is plotting heists with his gang. His actions make him an iconic figure, and he has a rapport with the general public despite being a criminal.

During his elaborate heists, he concentrates on the showmanship as much as the crime itself. He pulls off a daring art theft, stealing several priceless paintings from Dublin's best art gallery, giving the authorities the slip. The Gardaí become more determined to catch him as time goes on, in particular Noel Quigley, an officer whose ambition to catch Lynch becomes an obsession. His actions also gain the ire of the IRA.

Lynch finds himself in trouble when he is unable to sell a stolen Caravaggio painting, The Taking of Christ, giving Quigley the opportunity he was waiting for to try and catch him. Lynch is forced to go on the run, with his popularity with the public at stake.



Thaddeus O'Sullivan began trying to adapt the book The General by Paul Williams, but abandoned a direct adaption. Having previously worked on Nothing Personal about loyalist paramilitaries, and a biopic about John Gotti for NBC, O'Sullivan did not want to again work under the factual and legal constraints of a film based on real people, and was more interested in making a comedy or caper, and instead they developed their own story only loosely based on Martin Cahill. The original project went back on the market and John Boorman came on board as director. O'Sullivan was worried that investors might think the two projects were too similar, but after Boorman's The General screened at Cannes people saw the films were very different and were willing to invest.[3]

O'Sullivan would have cast more Irish actors except for Boorman's film, and said "If his part had not been so prominent in The General, I would have had Seán McGinley in my film. I'd have him in every film."[3] He felt it was necessary to cast recognizable named stars to stand the best chance of recouping the film's $10 million budget,[3] and was ultimately pleased with what he described as a "dream cast".[2]

Having seen Colin Farrell in a play at London's Donmar Warehouse Theatre, Spacey invited him to appear in one of his films, and convinced director O'Sullivan to cast him.[5]


The film received negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 14% based on reviews from 7 critics.[6]

Christopher Null writing for Filmcritic.com gave it 1.5 out of 5 wrote: "I can only imagine one thing worse than Kevin Spacey trying on an Irish accent, and that's sultry Linda Fiorentino doing the same thing." Though critical of the accents, he says the biggest problem is the dull and less than ordinary script.[7]

Derek Elley of Variety magazine called it "an ordinary, decent movie. Neither an embarrassment nor a triumph, tedious nor gripping". Elley praised the cast but compared it unfavorable with John Boorman's 1998 film The General.[8]



  1. "One Day at a Time" – Damon Albarn and Robert Del Naja
  2. "Kevin on a Motorbike" – Damon Albarn
  3. "Superfinger" – Lowfinger
  4. "Mother of Pearl" – Bryan Ferry
  5. "I Want You" – Shack
  6. "Gopher Mambo" – Yma Sumac
  7. "Chase After Gallery" – Damon Albarn
  8. "Eurodisco" – Bis
  9. "Bank Job" – Damon Albarn
  10. "Dying Isn't Easy" – Damon Albarn

Home media[edit]

Ordinary Decent Criminal was released on DVD on 31 January 2003.[9]


  1. ^ "Ordinary Decent Criminal (2000)". Archived from the original on 10 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b Martina Devlin (17 December 1999). "Stars turn out for a 'decent' gangster's tale". Irish Independent.
  3. ^ a b c d "A caper through Dublin's underworld". Irish Independent. 9 January 2000. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Our film cost $10m and there's no way we could get that back without a name in it.
  4. ^ "Ordinary Decent Criminal". The Irish in Film. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  5. ^ Donal Lynch (5 November 2017). "A-list star gave encouragement to young actors during his Irish visits". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Kevin Spacey's mangled gangster brogue from Ordinary Decent Criminal may go down as one of the worst Irish accents in celluloid history
  6. ^ Ordinary Decent Criminal at Rotten Tomatoes.Retrieved 31 October 2009.
  7. ^ Christopher Null (22 January 2003). "Ordinary Decent Criminal Review". FilmCritic.com – via ContactMusic.net.
  8. ^ Elley, Derek (24 March 2000). "Ordinary Decent Criminal". Variety.
  9. ^ Ordinary Decent Criminal (21 January 2003). "Ordinary Decent Criminal". Amazon. Retrieved 24 October 2012.

External links[edit]