Directed by Barnaby Thompson
Written by Preston Thompson
Any movie has a number of factors which may or may not attract a viewer to it. Genre I think is the biggest one, especially for casual fans who don’t like romance movies, or don’t like horror movies, or whatever the case may be. More often, I think people tend to gravitate toward genres as well, something we’re more inclined to like or be apologetic about than another. For me, it’s a combination of Action and Adventure. Those go hand in hand in many films. But there is also the element of who is in a movie, who directs a movie. “I’ll see anything Brad Pitt is in.” “I’ll watch anything Steven Spielberg does.” I think we tend to like things we’re familiar with too, seeking out the movie that is set in our hometown, or shot in our home state, about the hitman accountant who crunches the numbers “just like me”. Obviously I’m taking some liberties with these comparisons, but I bring it all up to say that a movie like Pixie has a number of elements and factors that will attract fans to see it. I mean, “deadly gangster priests”.
Pixie O’Brien (Olivia Cooke) is the daughter of gangster Dermot (Colm Meaney), who himself is at odds with the aforementioned “deadly gangster priests”. After a failed mission, Pixie’s boyfriend Colin (Rory Fleck Byrne) ends up dead at the hands of Harland (Daryl McCormack), who was just looking to protect his friend Frank (Ben Hardy). Between them, they find out Colin had a bag full of drugs, so they go on a hapless search, along with Pixie, to try to offload the drugs for life changing money. But the missing drugs are causing problems with Pixie’s family and their rival gang, whose drugs they were. The trio traverse the Irish countryside looking for a way out, often coming this close to ruin.
The mechanics of this film are all there, including every cliché you can imagine from the violent comedy genre (think Tarantino does Ireland). And yet it’s almost too cliché and unoriginal to make a lasting impact. Certainly there is polish to what is on display in this movie, first and foremost the cast being led by Olivia Cooke, whose charm on screen I could watch til kingdom come. She is a star and I look forward to everything I see her in going forward. We also get a few familiar faces pop up, including “that guy” Colm Meaney and Alec Baldwin making a surprising appearance in the movie. Hardy and McCormack were performers I was unfamiliar with, but they play beta to Cooke’s alpha really well, making the trio a pretty interesting group to follow throughout the movie. Without that synergy, I think the film would have fallen even flatter.
But I was held back from liking the film more simply because there is nothing signature about it. The jokes are funny, not memorable. The action set pieces are interesting, but not memorable. The climax fight scene shootout in the church is the most notable thing about the film, and certainly a scene we might be talking about in the future. It’s a pure adrenaline rush, but also slightly bogged down by excessive use of slow motion. As a genre film, I think it’s fine. It honors the history of films of this type, and does it well enough, including a needle drop soundtrack that helps build the coolness of the film right from the start. Even the title credits are stylized like we’ve seen before. But in the end, I’m not sure this story is all that interesting, I don’t think the inevitable twist is all that interesting (or surprising). Look, there are plenty worse movies to spend your time with. This is not a waste of time, but don’t expect to see the next great action comedy with this one either.