[Screen It]


(1996) (Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Heavy Heavy Moderate Extreme
Mild None Heavy None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
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Drama: A member of the IRA uses guerilla warfare to attempt to force the British from Ireland's soil.
It's the late 1910's and Michael Collins (LIAM NEESON) and Harry Boland (AIDAN QUINN) are best friends and members of the Irish Republican Army and are fighting the British over home rule of Ireland. Tired of the traditional, and unsuccessful, methods of warfare, Collins begins to use guerilla-style fighting where their members quickly strike one or two enemies and then disappear into the city. Information on whom to strike is supplied by officer Ned Broy (STEPHEN REA), an IRA sympathizer, and their actions bring a heavy and deadly response from the British. Soon Collins is the man the Irish cheer and the British hate as he simply steps up their attacks and forces the British to negotiate a treaty. But the president of the IRA, Eamon De Valera (ALAN RICKMAN), and others (including Harry) won't accept the treaty and branch off into their own military faction. With a civil war breaking out, Collins must do what he can to negotiate peace between his own country's waring factions and the British, while at the same time caring on a romance with Kitty Kiernan (JULIA ROBERTS) who earlier was involved with Harry.
Maybe. Older teens might be drawn to the war and historical conflict, but younger kids will not be drawn to this more adult oriented drama.
For violence and language.
  • LIAM NEESON plays a man who uses guerilla style murders to "bring the British to their knees," but knows when to stop when they've reached a treaty. Whether you seem him as hero or murderer is up to your views on the matter.
  • AIDAN QUINN and ALAN RICKMAN play characters who can't accept a treaty between the British and the Irish and thus cause a civil war to break out.


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    In another outstanding role, Liam Neeson creates a complex and passionate man who shows that his character is deeper than just a murderous patriot/traitor. He also does well at playing a character much younger than he usually does (Collins died at 31) and the rest of the cast is superb. One minor note, Alan Rickman's accent seems somewhat out of place among the other performances and that somewhat distracts from his fine performance. The rest of the cast is believable, but it appears that much of Julia Roberts' role was left on the editing room floor as her appearances seem too random. We expected Neeson's performance to be nominated for an Oscar (he didn't) as well as the musical score (it did, but didn't win), both of which soar throughout the movie. Our one main objection was the movie's length and we believe some editing would have tightened up the story and kept the audience from squirming three quarters of the way through. That's a minor objection and the film still creates quite a cinematic experience. We give it a 7.5 out of 10.
    The main things of concern here are the violence and profanity. Many people are injured or killed throughout this film that deals with guerilla style warfare (quick shoot and run murders) that results in a heavy dose of blood. Profanity is extreme (30 "f" words) and there are many tense scenes involving the violent and potentially violent encounters. The big topic to discuss with children is the accuracy of this portrayal of historic events and whether Collins should be viewed as a heroic patriot or murderous traitor. As always, we suggest you read through the category listings before allowing any children to see this film.

  • Collins and others are seen drinking wine.
  • Broy offers a superior officer some liquor while Collins is spying in the next room.
  • Kitty and Michael have wine with dinner.
  • In several scenes people (including Collins and others) are seen drinking beer.
  • A few men have a little blood on them after a battle scene.
  • An injured man, tied to a chair, is executed by firing squad and blood squirts out of the exit wounds in his back.
  • An IRA member is rather bloody after having been beaten by the British.
  • There is a sequence where British government agents are murdered by the IRA members. Many of them are shot and are quite bloody.
  • There's a quick shot of bodies burning in a car that's just blown up.
  • Broy's got a bloody nose after having been hit in the face with a rifle butt.
  • An IRA member's shoulder is rather bloody after having been shot.
  • A dead and bloody man is seen being pushed off the back of a cart onto the street.
  • Collins looks over many dead and bloody, sheet-covered men in a hospital.
  • Harry's dead body is hoisted out of the water after he's been shot.
  • Collins is seen with a bullet hole in his head and blood on its side.
  • Depending on your viewpoint, the military and murderous actions that Collins and his associates take might be considered as patriotic or murderously rebellious. Regardless, many are killed and much property is damaged. Also, (and more so in their time), Collins' guerilla style of warfare is seen as "uncivilized."
  • Collins and his men steal firearms from a police arsenal.
  • The British won't agree to give up Ireland and thus Collins does his best at reaching a treaty with them. De Valera and many others (including Harry) can't accept this, however, and thus cause a civil war among the Irish.
  • Some viewers may find the battle and guerilla warfare scenes to be tense. See "Violence" for details.
  • Collins is let into the British file records room where he looks up the files they have on the IRA. An officer comes into the room and nearly catches Collins in the act.
  • There are several scenes where Collins and others must run for cover and/or safety when the British come after them and these scenes are rather tense.
  • Harry runs through some catacombs trying to elude the soldiers who are after him. They shoot and wound him, and he then encounters one last soldier who has him dead in his gun sights.
  • Michael rides into an ambush that the audience is aware of before he is, and since we're told at the beginning that he died during his efforts, we know this is the time.
  • Handguns/Machine Guns/Explosives: Used to threaten, injure or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Collins douses their temporary headquarters with gasoline and sets the room on fire.
  • Phrases: "Shut up," "Bastard," "Stupid Irish cow," and "I hate you."
  • None.
  • There is a heavy amount of tense music in many scenes throughout the movie.
  • None.
  • 30 "f" words, 4 "s" words, 6 hells, 1 ass, and 9 uses of "Jesus," 8 uses of "Christ," 4 uses of "Jesus Christ," 3 uses of "For Christ's sake," and 1 use each of "Oh God," "For God's sake," and "Sweet mother of God" as exclamations.
  • Some prostitutes ask Collins and Harry if they "want a good time." The men decline the offer.
  • Many people, including Collins, smoke throughout the movie.
  • Kitty learns that Collins (her fiancÚ) has been shot and killed, and is understandably distraught.
  • The historical accuracy of the portrayal of the real Michael Collins and the actions of the IRA.
  • Rebellions against standing governments.
  • There is a battle scene of the Easter Uprising in Dublin (1916) between the IRA and the British militia. There is machine gun fire and explosives being fired upon the IRA members who shoot back with their weapons. Many people are injured or killed.
  • A British soldier kicks an injured IRA member who's lying on a stretcher.
  • After the above rebellion, certain members of the IRA are executed by firing squad. The men are seen being shot one by one and falling to the ground. The injured man is seen tied to a chair and is then shot with blood spilling from his wounds.
  • The British show up at a rally where Collins is speaking. They begin fighting with the rally members and Collin head butts an officer before being clubbed on the back of his head.
  • Collins and others set fire to a police arsenal and then hold guns on the men as they run out.
  • Collins holds his pistol under Broy's chin to make him talk.
  • Collins and Harry wrestle (playfully) over Kitty and break a mirror.
  • An IRA member is beaten by the British after a death threat has been issued by the IRA.
  • Collins throws and breaks a chair in anger after learning of the above.
  • The guerilla acts begin and include a sequence where many British agents are shot. One of them is seen with blood running from his mouth.
  • Collins douses their temporary headquarters with gasoline and sets the room on fire.
  • British soldiers bust down a door and one of them slaps a woman as they search for Collins.
  • A carload of Broy's superiors is blown up when they start their car.
  • Locals throw food at the British soldiers as they enter the city. A soldier then opens fire with his machine causing his comrades to also open fire and many locals are shot dead. One local throws a Molotov cocktail down onto a truckload of soldiers catching them and the truck on fire.
  • Kitty smacks Michael after getting mad at him.
  • After Broy has been discovered helping the IRA, he's hit in the face with a rifle and later hanged (we see the rope around his neck and then his twitching feet).
  • The IRA then goes after the more elite British secret service and shoots many of them dead. One is shot while in a bathtub. Another is shot in front of his wife, but not before he shoots one of the IRA members. A third is shot by three men while exercising outdoors.
  • The British respond by bursting out onto a soccer field with their armored cars and soldiers. A soccer player is shot with a machine gun and then the military opens fire on the other players and spectators. Many are injured or killed.
  • Kitty holds a gun to a man armed with a machine gun who was making moves toward Collins during a speech.
  • Collins pulls Kitty away from a window just in time as a sniper fires several shots through the window.
  • Collins and his new British allies attack De Valera's men with machine guns and mortar fire. After that there are many civil war battles seen where many people are wounded or killed. There's lots of gunfire, explosions and buildings being blown apart.
  • Harry is chased through some catacombs and is shot by the soldiers chasing him. He finally makes it out and is swimming through some sort of canal/sewer when a soldier spots and shoots him several times, killing him.
  • Collins and his entourage are caught in an ambush and fired upon. They return fire, but Collins is hit in the head by a sniper and dies instantly.

  • Reviewed October 24, 1996

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