Taffin (1988) – Film Review
Director: Francis Megahy
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Alison Doody, Ray McAnally
By Roger Crow
We don’t get enough Irish Westerns, which is a crying shame. I’m not talking actual cowboy-style Westerns, but dramas which use all the old tropes in a contemporary setting. The bad guys, the lone hero, the bar scene, the shootouts. You get the idea.
I’m guessing that when Pierce Brosnan didn’t land his 007 role in the late 1980s, he was a simmering cauldron of rage. The Remington Steele contract may have meant Tim Dalton landed the part, and a great job he did too. Meanwhile, Pierce, allegedly angry over the result, made Taffin, a tale of the battle for land and a lone hero taking on the bad guys.
Back in the days of video shops, Taffin was always there on the shelf, like a dog in a rescue centre begging to be taken home. And I’m sure many did, but if I ever saw it back of the day, that memory has been wiped. I think I’d remember some of Pierce’s now iconic Gif-friendly outbursts.
“Outpouring of anger”
Brosnan is Mark Taffin, a well-read, brooding, ridiculously handsome guy. He’s so photogenic it hurts. So naturally he gets together with barmaid Alison Doody, who is also an 11 out of 10 on the beauty scale, and was rightly snapped up by Spielberg for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s a wonder the two of them don’t create some sort of nuclear reaction when they inevitably get together. And naturally, in an act of cinematic inevitably, all of Ms Doody’s clothes are suddenly on the floor as the achingly handsome Taffin doesn’t bore her with his latest read, but does give her a night she may never forget.
Mark being so Poldarkesque, is a hot and cold kind of guy. Before he knows what’s happened, she’s moved in and as two insanely beautiful people clearly can’t share his poky bedroom for fear of an explosion, he tells her that “MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T BE LIVING HERE!!!!” Now I would never normally resort to caps, or exclamation marks, but if you only see one minute of Taffin, that’s the bit you need to see.
I can only imagine what cast and crew thought when Pierce erupted like Dante’s Peak with this outpouring of anger. It makes Al Pacino’s outburst in Heat (1995) look mild by comparison.
There is an actual plot amid all of this swagger and posing from Pierce, but it’s pretty generic. There’s the odd fight, an exploding toilet, much missed Ray McAnally being humiliated by the generic bad guys, and oh, there’s Father Ted himself, Dermot Morgan, as a sleazy MC who introduces an exotic dancer, who, like Ms Doody, also has a job keeping her clothes on. In this day and age, Taffin would be called out for such an exploitative scene. I’d like to think if it was made now, as a homage to Dermot, there would be folks outside the set with placards reading ‘CAREFUL NOW’ and ‘DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING’.
Pierce could even play the bad guy.
Look out too for Patrick Bergin as the hero’s brother Mo; the thesp later starred in Robin Hood, had bathroom towel issues with Julia Roberts in Sleeping with the Enemy, and EastEnders. There’s also a car chase, and, oh, it doesn’t really matter what else happens. Just watch it to see those glorious minutes when Pierce went a bit nuts, as all actors should. “I do what I can, you know!” Taffin exclaims at one point, and I have to skip back and watch it at least five times. Brosnan’s voice is extraordinary, like an Irish guy who’s spent too long playing an American who now attempts an Irish accent, but winds up sounding like a terrible impressionist. And yet it’s brilliant, like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, or Tom (Goldmember) Hanks in Elvis.
So, a generic thriller made unmissable by an always watchable star who, of course, became 007, but sadly never yelled at MI6 enemies like a man possessed by Brian Blessed. Now that’s a James Bond movie I would have loved to see.