Facts and Figures
Run time: 114 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st April 2011
Distributed by: Cinedigm Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 19
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Killing Bono Review
In late-70s Dublin, brothers Neil and Ivan (Barnes and Sheehan) form a band called The Undertakers, creating a friendly rivalry with their friends Paul, David, Larry and Adam (McCann, Mark Griffin, Sean Doyle and David Tudor), who form The Hype. Then The Hype changes its name to U2 and becomes the biggest band in the world. Over the years, Neil's bull-headed attitude scuppers every chance he and Ivan get, even when they find minor fame in London with the help of manager/girlfriend Gloria (Ritter). he also indebts them to an Irish gangster (Townsend).
The film starts out with a blast of fresh energy, as the actors dive into the 1970s setting and bring out clever character details. Barnes is watchable in the central role, developing a lively and realistic sense of chemistry with Sheehan. And their interaction with McCann's Bono feels extremely authentic. On the other hand, Barnes isn't quite charming enough to overcome his characters darker corners, and the script's repetitive structure doesn't help.
The way lightning strikes U2 but continually leaves the McCormicks struggling seems rather cruel, although much of the trouble is a result of Neil's awful decision-making, which makes him a rather unlikeable character. And this is a problem for a film that's trying to build sympathy for him. Instead, he's so annoying that we actually feel he deserves each indignity. And there are a lot of them.
There are some terrific scenes along the way, as well as some great (and not-so-great) music. Scene-stealers add constant humour, including Townsend (playing against type), Serafinowicz (as the brothers' promoter), Postlethwaite (as their lovably leery landlord) and Treadaway (as an angry record exec). And the film is smartly assembled, traversing from 1977 to the mid-1990s with an entertaining sense of time and place. And of course there's the fact that this really happened. Well, we assume it's true, because some events have clearly been heightened for comedic effect.