Ordinary Decent Criminal

(Rental Version)

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Details At A Glance

Category Crime Theatrical Trailer
Rating ma.gif (1236 bytes)
Year Released 2000
Running Time
90:09 Minutes
(Not 91.45 minutes as per packaging)
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Thaddeus O'Sullivan
Icon Entertainment
Fox Home Video
Starring Kevin Spacey
Linda Fiorentino
Peter Mullan
Stephen Dillane
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI Rental Only Music Damon Albarn

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Ordinary Decent Criminal is a film starring Kevin Spacey, and any film with Kevin Spacey in it is worth watching in order to get one of his quiet, low-key performances. It is the third film to be based on the story of Martin Cahill, following Vicious Circle and The General, and numerous critics have already compared this effort to its predecessors. Michael Lynch (Kevin Spacey), a heavily fictionalized version of the aforementioned Cahill, is the ordinary, decent criminal who commits robberies that keep the police in a state of complete confusion, much to the delight of the people of Dublin. Living with a wife named Christine (Linda Fiorentino), her sister Lisa (Helen Baxendale), and a seemingly ever-changing number of children, Michael Lynch is just full of wisdom to live by ("You never lie to anyone in the family"). As Michael's heists grow more and more ambitious, he winds up robbing Dublin's most prestigious art gallery, walking out with a valuable painting that he cannot get rid of, and comes under increasing pressure from both the police and the IRA as a result.

    The fact that this film is about a famous Irish criminal, and that it has been almost universally panned by UK critics, was not an encouraging sign as I sat down to view it. The fact that Fox have elected to release the film as a rental disc with a Pan And Scan transfer didn't help, either. Anyway, the story rolls along with Lynch and his family having their lives made into nightmares by the Dublin police, and Michael seeing only two ways to get out: turn himself in or get killed. There really isn't much more to the plot at all, which makes writing this synopsis even more of a headache than it normally should be. I have to go with the advice of just about every critic, amateur or otherwise, that I've heard from, and recommend that you have a look at The General instead. Most of the negative comments, which account for nine out of the ten I read when debating whether to stick my hand up for this one, cite the biggest problem with this version of the story as being too much Americanization.

    Given that this effort has been released with a six-month rental window, I would normally suggest that one makes good use of that time to check out the film and see whether it is to their liking. I suppose that the MA rating can be seen as a guarantee that, whatever else the film lacks, there will at least be some entertaining violence to justify the rental fee. However, I also recommend that we, the DVD-Video users, give the rental release scheme a thumbs down by not hiring this disc, which won't be all that hard to do when the plot is taken into account. The transfer quality is not exactly anything to rave about, either.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

   The transfer's sharpness is acceptable, with plenty of detail to behold in the foregrounds. On numerous occasions, however, the background lacks definition and becomes quite blurry, often with roaming noise that is definitely compression-related. The shadow detail is good, although it is quite clear that shadow detail wasn't a major concern during principal photography. There was no low level noise.

    The colour saturation is a perfect reflection of the environment being shot, with numerous lush shades of green conflicting with the dirty browns and greys of the city. I've never actually been to Ireland, but after seeing the photography contained herein, I'm going to have to add Dublin to my list of places to visit. There were no problems with colour bleeding or other such artefacts, although lens flare from the lights within Michael Lynch's factory headquarters was a small problem.

    MPEG artefacts were mostly absent from the picture, but there was one MPEG-related loss of definition during a scene transition at 32:42, when the edges of the judge's face and the wall behind him briefly dissolved into a string of macro-blocks. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a lot of aliasing, with distracting examples at 4:37, 5:04, 5:54, 8:04, 8:24, 8:50, 9:04, 11:46, 16:51, 16:59, 18:30, 19:54, 20:00, 22:59, 24:55, 25:03, 25:36, 28:30, 30:58, 32:40, 32:46, 33:51, 34:00, 37:16, 38:04, 39:34, and 41:40. These are just the instances I noted before I ran out of space on my notepad, and I am positive that I missed a few within these times as well. Film artefacts consisted of black and white marks on the picture that were small in size and moderate in frequency.


    The packaging claims that this disc contains the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, with an unspecified bitrate. In reality, there is only one soundtrack on this disc: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0, with a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second. Since there is only one choice of soundtrack on the disc, I stuck with the English dialogue.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, in spite of the Irish accents that are quite obviously and inconsistently put on by the principal actors. The lesser stars of the film have more natural and consistent accents, but I found them easy to understand at all times anyway. Still, others who are not as used to accents from the Celtic lands as I am may experience some difficulties, so you may consider yourself warned if the likes of Jimoein give you headaches. There are no discernible problems with audio sync, save for some marginal ADR during phone conversations.

    The score music in this film is credited to one Damon Albarn, but the contemporary numbers, such as the very appropriate number that made a certain band by the name of Jane's Addiction famous, Been Caught Stealing, left more of an impression upon me. Much of the score music consists of rather twee sounds on a synthesizer, and sounds rather inappropriate during the times when it can be fully heard.

    Being that this is a straight stereo mix, there was no activity from the surround channels. This was somewhat disappointing, but there were very few sound effects that really would have benefited from being directed into the rears, anyway. The film is very heavily dependent on dialogue, so a discrete mix would be very heavily biased towards the front channels, anyway. The subwoofer was present to support the music, gunshots, and other such bass-heavy sound effects, which it did without calling any specific attention to itself.



    The usual static Fox rental menu: ugly to look at, and more harm than good in the art of shameless self-promotion.

Theatrical Trailer

    The word I am looking for to describe this trailer is "poor". Running for ninety-seven seconds, in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, the trailer comes with a generous dose of motion blur and film artefacts.


    As far as we've been able to determine, there are no specific censorship issues with this title.

R4 vs R1

    There is no version of this disc currently available in Region 1, as far as I have been able to find out. Those of you who don't mind paying £14.99, however, may wish to snub the six-month rental window by ordering the disc from the UK. Information about the Region 2 UK release is equally scant, but it appears that they at least get the proper aspect ratio.


    Ordinary Decent Criminal is a classic example of a "watch-once-and-forget" film.

    The video quality is very disappointing, and where's the other quarter of the image, Fox?

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are very basic.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
March 31, 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer