Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Sundance ’17: Bad Day for the Cut
is sort of like a Northern Irish western, but instead of looking for the man
who shot his pa, Donal is out to kill the chick who had his mum’s head bashed
in. It turns out it is part of an IRA feud dating back to the 1970s. Who knew
they could hold a grudge so long in those parts? Yet, they most decidedly do in
Chris Baugh’s Bad Day for the Cut (trailer here), which screens
during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
is resigned to be a quiet middle-aged farmer, who lives with his mother and
fixes cars on the side, until dear old Florence is murdered in an apparent
burglary gone wrong. Shortly thereafter, two thugs try to dispatch Donal in a
phony suicide, but the crusty cat is harder to kill than they anticipated. It
also helps that Bartosz’s heart really wasn’t in it. His was forced to assist
in the hit job by human traffickers holding his sister Kaja. Forging an
alliance of convenience that will blossom into trust, Donal and Bartosz follow
the chain of gangsters up the ladder to Frankie Pierce, who built a trafficking
and prostitution empire out of her father’s old IRA terrorism network.
and co-screenwriter Brendan Mullin repeatedly emphasize the tragic nature of
the unending cycle of revenge-taking. Yet, there sure seems to be a lot of
people in Bad Day who need killing.
So maybe the real message is you better just finish the job completely, because
that last bad guy left alive is ever so likely to come back to haunt you later.
Nigel O’Neill is all kinds of awesome as salt-of-the-earth Donal. He broods
like a monster, yet still remains believably unassuming. He is the kind of dude
who will convince you Nixon was right about riling up the quiet majority. It is
definitely a bad idea in Donal’s case. This is not a buddy movie by any
stretch, but the co-conspirator chemistry he forges with Józef Pawlowski’s
Bartosz evolves in credibly engaging ways.
Bad Day is also blessed
with several great villains starting with Susan Lynch, who plays Pierce with
wonderfully foul-mouthed Cruella De Vil flamboyance. She is ably assisted by
Stuart Graham as her natty right-hand man. Plus, David Pearse (Grabbers, Zonad) gets to do his weaselly
thing as Gavigan, Pierce’s first lieutenant unlucky enough to fall into Donal’s
According to Bad
Day, revenge is like money and good looks—you can never have too much.
Nevertheless, Baugh certainly isn’t mucking around with this hard-nosed
morality play. He stages some brutally intense action scenes, often exploiting
whatever common household items might be at hand. It is a lean, mean killing
machine, but it definitely has a moral center. Highly recommended for fans of
payback movies, Bad Day for the Cut screens
again today (1/28) in Salt Lake, as part of this year’s Sundance.
Labels: Northern Irish Cinema, Sundance '17