Pierce Brosnan Can’t Save This Troubled Irish Caper.
DIRECTED BY FRANCIS MEGAHY/1988
BLU-RAY STREET DATE: MARCH 16, 2021/KL STUDIO CLASSICS
For those nostalgic about 1988’s VHS rental shelf staple Taffin, but have been holding out for a pristine Blu-ray transfer, that day has arrived. If you’re not a Taffin fan (and really- are there actually any??) but frequented grocery stores’ video rental corners, you may recall a younger Pierce Brosnan (as Taffin!) looking seethingly ferocious yet also generic near the stylized graphic, “Taffin”- a title that could not have possibly meant anything to anyone, and is completely uncompelling even after having spent time with said character.
It turns out that the movie is more generic than it is ferocious, not a favorable observation of an R-rated action movie. That, though, is giving its dismally quaint Irish township setting the short shrift. Populated by semi-colorful average folk just going about their business of pubbing and whatnot, Taffin’s unvarnished locale imbues the film with a kind of half-baked Bill Forsyth-movie charm. Think Local Hero by way of Death Wish, swapping out all the home invasion terror for an eco threat ala Ernest Goes to Camp. But boring.
The trouble begins when a beloved sports field is targeted for demolition to make room for a big horrible toxic smoke-spewing pollution factory. Greedy boardroom types are behind it all, but strangely, the movie focuses more on demonizing their mob-like criminal accomplices. To take them on, we have Brosnan, young, healthy, and slick. Though he too is not immune to the dreariness of the town of Ballymoran. Despite how awesome at everything and how stupidly smart Taffin is, the man playing him is clearly caught in the rather thick doldrums of his post-Remington Steele career. (Remington Steele being the TV series that infamously caused him to pass on taking over the role of 007 sooner than he did.)
Taffin’s hair and stubble are amazing (a little too amazing? Are we to believe that Ballymoran has a high end men’s fashion salon?), though he alternates between living in an open shed and an attic. But, do not mess with him! See that vintage High Noon poster on his wall? That’s him, man– Gary Cooper. A lone man against an onslaught of injustice. “This is stronger than this”, tells Taffin, indicating that brains are stronger than weapons. Though Taffin mostly ends up shooting people.
Before all the trouble that the movie brings him, Taffin was a simple, amoral debt collector. Kind of like Rocky without the physique or any personality magnetism. While shaking down a deadbeat for his employer, he catches the eye of Charlotte, an abnormally attractive barkeep looking for a ticket out of her current ass-grabby dive. (Charlotte is played by Alison Doody, who would go on to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade the following year). Taffin, fresh from shattering a wine glass into into a guy’s hand (ooh, hot!), is just the ticket. In the very next scene, we learn that Taffin is the kind of lover who embraces with eyes both doughy and icy… just before literally ripping Charlotte’s shirt open. Good thing that’s exactly what she’s there for.
Believe it or not, this relationship takes. For dramatic reasons, everyone in the town turns their backs on Taffin, even after he (spoiler alert) shuts down the construction of that abrasive chemical plant, or whatever it would’ve been. Around this point in the story, Charlotte storms through a different local pub where all the yokels are drinking away their shame to let them all know how disappointed she is. “There’s not a full set of balls between all of you!”, she chides. As for Taffin, he couldn’t get any lower. Somewhere in Ballymoran, a male grooming salon just lost its only customer. And that’s the hell of it all.
Taffin has arrived on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. For a movie that withered away ignored on VHS, this transfer looks pretty darn good. The Irish-tinged musical score is the work of two composers, one of which was an up and coming Hans Zimmer. (The other is Stanley Myers). It sounds just fine, all things considered. No one bothered to contribute an audio commentary to this, so fans will have to make do with a pile of trailers for other Kino releases.