With a cast presided over by elder statesman Harris and The Crying Game's Rea, and the helm occupied by MacKinnon, director of last year's pathologically acclaimed Small Faces, Trojan Eddie should, by rights, make for a powerful, gritty cinematic experience. So it's a disappointment to discover that while this is far from disastrous, it doesn't exactly make for an escapist night at the flicks either.
Based on Irish folklore, the action centres on Eddie (Rea), an ex-con drifter with an impossibly complicated love life who organises hookey auctions for his boss John Power (Harris), leader of a group of local travellers. When the latter ties the knot with fellow traveller and skinny-dipper Kathleen (Aislin McGuckin), young enough to be his granddaughter, it becomes obvious that this nuptial is far from made in heaven; before long, she legs it with Eddie's assistant Dermot (Stuart Townsend), taking their11,000 dowry money with them. Power, naturally, is none too chuffed, lots of people are roughed up as a result (fatally in one case) and, inevitably, all the blame falls on Trojan.
Using folklore as the basis for a modern day yarn is an intriguing notion, and MacKinnon's fluid, confident direction shows he is more than up to the task of tackling it. Unfortunately, the story is just too complicated and heavy-going for comfort, with too many characters and plot threads woven in, and while Rea and Harris inject proceedings with their customary class, neither protagonist is likeable enough to win the sympathy of the audience. Only the unexpected pay-off, in which the imposing, bullying Power is treated to the comeuppance he so richly deserves, offers a glimpse of the heights this could have achieved.