Pixie O’Brien (Olivia Cooke) is on a mission to avenge her mother’s death, but finds herself sidetracked on a road trip through the Irish countryside with Frank (Ben Hardy) and Harland (Daryl McCormack). After a heist goes wrong, the youngsters head on the run, and who’s only after them but a gang of priests (and nuns) led by Father Hector McGrath (Alec Baldwin).
‘Pixie’ opens with the title “One upon a time in the west… of Ireland” and thus makes its influences and sense of humour clear from the start. The western is a genre that’s been adapted to Irish film before, as far back as ‘Into the West’ and more recently in ‘Black ’47’. It makes for a lively framing device, as a robbery and shootout open the film with a final showdown concluding it, but the similarities end there.
Borrowing from the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino as well as Martin McDonagh, the film sees the lives of a number of individuals of a small town collide. Aside from Cooke, Hardy, McCormack and Baldwin, the film also stars Colm Meaney, Dylan Moran, Sebastian de Souza, ‘The Young Offenders’ star Chris Walley, and Ned Dennehy in its ensemble. If non-Irish actors playing Irish characters irk you, this film is best avoided, for while Cooke and Hardy do a decent job of the accent, the fact that they’ve been cast at all reminds you of the infamous, skin-crawling “bad Irish accent” phenomenon. Worst of all is Alec Baldwin’s attempt, the Irish intonations about as consistent as Irish weather.
While ‘Pixie’ provides some great laughs, it can be a little reliant on clichés. Walley makes a fun cameo as a neurotic drug dealer, Turlough Convery is great as the intimidating gangster antagonist, spitting his lines at the camera at one point, and newcomer Olivia Byrne is very funny. As for the leads, Cooke is great as the crafty, intriguing Pixie while Hardy leans a bit much into the dull, horny, pretty boy archetype. McCormack makes a great balance as the more cautious of the trio.
The second half of the movie is certainly stronger than its first, with the church-set shootout providing an exhilarating finale (the best this reviewer has seen in such a setting since ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’). So overall, ‘Pixie’ is good fun, not perfect, but enjoyable – a fun-filled crime caper with a strong ensemble cast.