The Explosive Saga of Michael Flatley’s ‘Missing’ Action Movie Blackbird

Forget your Avatar: Way of Waters and Bullet Trains. There’s no film more anticipated in 2022 than an Irish indie crime thriller called Blackbird, which is due to hit cinemas on September 2. For years, every rumor of his impending arrival was met with breathless excitement. Extensive sections of social media fizz with fervent speculation about exactly what we can expect when Blackbird flies across our screens.

There’s dizzying excitement about Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley’s feature debut, which he not only stars in but also writes, directs and produces. But not a frame has been seen of the secret-looking project, which was completed in 2018 but kept away from an increasingly desperate public. So far, that is.

The Blackbird trailer has lived up to all the expectations of aficionados of deeply bizarre vanity projects. Unsurprisingly, it immediately trended on Twitter upon release. Flatley seems to have summoned every cliche imaginable for his directorial debut, in which he cast himself as Victor Blackley, a once-lethal hitman known as, surprisingly enough, Blackbird who has – as it is always the case – turned its back on violence.

As the moody music begins and a priest asks Blackley “Is today the day you wish to confess your sins?”, he grimly replies, “Not today. My sins are mine. ” Leaving aside this apparent non-sequence – who else would they confess sins to? — the 90-second preview — from Dancelord Pictures, no less — offers a quick montage of exotic locales, Eric Roberts as a surly crime lord, beautiful women for Flatley to kiss, and, of course, the line “We gotta get Victor involved. No one can do what he’s doing. The trailer ends with a Blackley in a tuxedo covered in blood announcing “Bless me father, for I have sinned and I’m about to sin again”. The Blackbird clearly sang again.

The film is unlikely to upset the Bafta nominating committee. The question now is not whether it will be good, but how bad it will be. Based on the early footage, Flatley appears to be competing with himself to see if he’s a less accomplished director, writer, or leading man. Admittedly, those waiting to see Blackbird don’t expect the film to have any of the conventional strengths of cinema. That hasn’t stopped at least one eager viewer from announcing he’ll be seated front row center for the film’s premiere screening in Dublin, which he considers little less than his own Cannes festival.

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