Miller’s Crossing (1990) Review

Tom Reagan is is the right-hand man to Irish mob boss Leo O’Bannon and everything is about to come crashing down when his loyalty is tested and a woman comes between them.


Leo had been running a city during Prohibition in the US and when his rival Johnny Caspar an Italian gangster announces his intent to kill bookie Bernie Bernbaum he goes against Tom’s advice about protecting him. Bernie just happens to be the brother of Verna who Leo was in a relationship with but having an affair with Tom. Obviously all of these different factors which complicated the plot were going to cause many different problems and issues for everyone who was involved.

This was all going to start a war between the Irish and Italian mobs but Leo will not be swayed by Tom’s pleas of giving up Bernie to Caspar and this results in an assassination attempt on Leo. In an attempt to prove to Leo that Verna is just using him to protect her brother he reveals the affair which backfires on him when he is then beaten up.

Tom then attempts to work for Caspar but must prove himself that he is not still working for Leo and this again creates more mayhem and chaos. We cannot help but want to see Tom survive and succeed but with the choices he makes we are given plenty of anxious moments and then left wondering just what he is actually going to do next. The twists and turns have you on edge a little and that certainly makes for entertaining moments. The plot was actually a lot deeper and complex than it first seemed to be going and therefore I am not going to spoil anything in terms of the reveals.

Albert Finney is just great as a mob boss, seriously he was so comfortable in that role and that made it a joy to watch. Gabriel Byrne excels in the leading role though and we cannot help but want to see him succeed. He comes across as quite a nice man given the circumstances of the mobs and the work he had been doing. Marcia Gay Harden adds the female support and I thought she was great in a strong role, given the lack of female characters within the film. John Turturro was a total scene stealer and deserves a lot of credit for his performance within the film.

A very impressive film from the Coen’s and this is certainly one that shows that you really can do the mob/mafia style films in this manner. Considering this was from 1990 it still looks very good as well.

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