Belfast Calibre 9

Picture Michael Corleone, if he lived on the Falls Road and carried a hurling stick.

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“Belfast Calibre 9” is a short film based around the gangland feuds and violence surrounding a human trafficking deal gone wrong. A very adventurous feat, director Thomas Pollock has clearly been inspired by the greats, bringing to mind the traditions of Italian American mafia and gangland movies. Picture Michael Corleone, if he lived on the Falls Road and carried a hurling stick. Interestingly, and what seems to be a pattern from independent Irish films, the production team and the cast overlaps, with writers Bruno Santillo and Andrew McNeill also staring as Leo and Sean respectively.

The production quality has to be commended; the use of the ominous blue filter along with the high-definition quality of the shots makes for a stunning view. Northern Ireland has become synonymous for its film work over the past few years and “Belfast Calibre 9” is a great example of the fantastic quality of filmmakers that are being produced here. It is a low budget film with all the aspirations of a Hollywood blockbuster and given the right circumstances director Pollock certainly will thrive, indicated with the success of this short.

The actors undoubtedly put the effort into this film. There was great chemistry between the actors and some really pulled off the role of gang members. However, the slightly cheesy dialogue made it difficult for the actors to be taken seriously. On top of that, there were many parts of the film that included difficult fight scenes with intricate choreography and physical acting, which maybe could have done with some more work to become more believable.

Despite the gritty and heavy-going plotline, this film can almost be watched as a comedy – a parody of the intense crime dramas set in Belfast with the kicker being the bullet through the crotch at the end which surely was included for humour. The character of Sean seemed to be the most difficult character to play. Having the odds stacked against him dressed in a
stock character costume; oversized gold chain, dark red tracksuit and big moustache; Sean wouldn’t look out of place in a “Give My Head Peace” reunion. However, McNeill holds his own and makes sure his intensity shines though, with one particularly memorable moment as he uses a hurling stick as an attack weapon, with the physicality being almost a Northern Irish ode to “Psycho”.

One of the best things about this film was the landscape and wide shots, showing off the cinematic views of Belfast city; not necessarily the beauty spots but places that helped create the intense but aesthetically pleasing themes of violence. The inclusion of the famous Bobby Sands mural reminds the audience of the not long-gone Troubles and history of violence
from this area, but it is refreshing to see a piece that is not focusing on this. “Belfast Calibre 9” highlights the new kind of film scene in Northern Ireland, and those involved should only be encouraged by the achievement from this attempt.

Check out the film’s IMDB page.

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