Director: Michael Flatley
Starring: Michael Flatley, Eric Roberts, Nicole Evans, Patrick Bergin, Ian Beattie, Rachel Warren
Run Time: 90 mins
Blackbird is a film directed, written, produced and starring Michael Flatley, best known for his Irish dancing in shows such as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. The film was self-funded by Flatley (he says it was not a vanity project…) and Flatley not only directs, but also writes, produces and stars in the lead role. Blackbird was filmed back in 2018 and after terrible initial reviews, a UK release was unclear. Four years later, it’s finally with us.
Flatley is Victor Blackley, an ex-MI6 agent who likes to wear a hat at all kinds of angles. A few minutes into the film, you know exactly what you’re in for with a hilarious, ill-advised flashback to a previous relationship with Flatley’s facial expression against a white background, akin to the Teletubbies sun.
Blackley now owns a hotel in Barbados and has retired from espionage. That is until Eric Roberts’ villain walks in with his girlfriend, Vivian (Nicole Evans) who happens to also be an ex-MI6 agent from Viktor’s past. We’re expected to believe that she is completely unaware of his villainous tendencies. Viktor’s friends repeatedly tell him something has to be done to prevent Roberts from unleashing worldwide catastrophe.
Blackbird is expectedly terrible and is laugh-out-loud bad in places, particularly in its second half. Michael Flatley was not born to be an actor and his performance is all about his hat, that gets positioned. He has no charisma or emotion and his relationship with women is particularly wooden.
The dialogue is ear-scraping and the story, if you can even call it that, perfunctory. Once you accept the film is an unmitigated disaster, it passes the time well enough and the unintentional laughs keep on coming, especially in the second half.
And then there are the action sequences. Flatley imagines his secret agent as a superhero, who can take down henchmen twice his size in one blow. It’s quite extraordinary to witness.
Blackbird is a train wreck and Flatley makes all of the wrong decisions in his filmmaking debut. But when categorised specifically as a ‘bad film’, Blackbird is pretty successful and there are consistent laughs or cringes to be had but I can’t imagine sitting through it again.