Killing Bono (tbc)

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Review byMatthew Turner31/03/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Enjoyable comedy drama that succeeds thanks to likeable performances from Barnes and Sheehan, though the script occasionally struggles to find the right tone and it's not quite as funny as it thinks it is.

What's it all about?
Directed by Nick Hamm, Killing Bono part-fictionalises the memoir by Telegraph rock journalist Neil McCormick. In 1976, Dublin, wannabe rockstars Neil (Ben Barnes) and his brother Ivan (Robert Sheehan) both audition for the band that will go on to become U2 when they spot a sign-up sheet at their school, but when Neil is rejected, he conceals the fact that Bono (Martin McCann) wanted Ivan to be second guitarist and persuades his brother to form their own band with him instead.

Refusing help from a rapidly successful Bono, Neil instead borrows money from local gangster Danny Machin (Stanley Townsend) in order to fund the band's move to London. However, once in London their luck goes from bad to worse and they find their every effort over-shadowed by the phenomenal success of U2.

The Good
Barnes and Sheehan deliver likeable performances and spark off each other nicely, making a superb onscreen duo and ensuring that their characters remain sympathetic, despite the fact that Neil is frequently a bit of a dick. There's also strong support from McCann (uncannily superb as Bono), Krysten Ritter (as an American who becomes Neil's manager and girlfriend), Peter Serafinowicz (as a typically amoral A&R man) and, in his final screen performance, Pete Postlethwaite as the boys' camp landlord.

The script crackles with great dialogue and there are several memorable lines, such as Ivan angrily telling Neil “You made the worst decision of my life!” In addition, Hamm maintains a decent sense of pace throughout and there's a superb soundtrack to boot.

The Bad
With a script co-written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Killing Bono is obviously desperate for a Commitments-style vibe, but it never quite hits the right note and occasionally seems to be trying too hard. Similarly, there are some jarring lurches in tone that don't quite work, most notably when the film tries to live up to the promise of its title (clue: nobody kills Bono).

Worth seeing?
Killing Bono is an entertaining comedy drama that has a few flaws but ultimately succeeds thanks to lively, likeable performances from Barnes and Sheehan. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 28/02/2020 22:14

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