Bulging with characters – 13 of them introduced in the first 10 minutes, including a baby who must be counted as he’s integral to the plot – Whole Lotta Sole is an Irish crime dramedy from 2011 whose release here in holiday time is well judged. This is because although it starts out darkly enough, largely because of David O’Hara’s menacing turn as a Belfast gangster called – what else? – Mad Dog Flynn, it soon evolves into an innocuous hostage comedy that leaches away the bulk of the tension.
Never mind; Flynn is merely one character in a multi-ring circus of subplots that director Terry George and co-writer Thomas Gallagher contrive to complicate with linked characters, misunderstandings and conflicts, and miraculously it all fits together rather cleverly.
It is at least one subplot too far and thus too thin, but you can’t have everything. What you do get, inter alia, are criminals both big-league and petty, police, refugees, father-son issues, romance, the SAS, the MoD and the IRA. You also get some good Irish actors (joining O’Hara are Colm Meaney and Martin McCann), and one Yank, Brendan Fraser, who, in the company of all the mad Irish, comes over like a vanilla voice of reason.
There are weapons, mostly old, and fish – because the film’s title is the fish market where the main action kicks in. George (In the Name of the Father, Hotel Rwanda) ditches seriousness and just has fun with this one. It’s no Dog Day Afternoon. The action’s confined, the suspense is barely sustained, but at least it’s shot for pace and efficient storytelling. I predict a future of reruns on telly.
WHOLE LOTTA SOLE, directed by Terry George
Films are rated out of 5: 1 = abysmal; 5 = amazing