Killing Bono
dir Nick Hamm
scr Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
prd Ian Flooks, Mark Huffam, Piers Tempest
with Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan, Krysten Ritter, Pete Postlethwaite, Stanley Townsend, Martin McCann, Peter Serafinowicz, Justine Waddell, Diarmuid Noyes, Hugh O'Conor, Luke Treadaway, Ralph Brown
release UK 1.Apr.11
11/Ire 1h54
Killing Bono
Hair today, gone tomorrow: Sheehan and Barnes

ritter postlethwaite townsend
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Killing Bono Based on a true story, this film vividly captures the frustrating randomness of fame. The sharp and funny characters are nicely played, but the plot gets lost along the way, spinning in circles and trying too hard to ramp up the action.

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.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 21.Jan.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall