Review: ‘Ray Donovan, The Movie’ (four Irishmen and a funeral)

Wait — there’s a Ray Donovan movie?!

Following a daylight shootout, Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) tracks his father Mickey (Jon Voight) — with millions in bonds he needs to unload — to their old stomping grounds in Boston. His brother Bunchy (Dash Mihok) and his daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) are trying to help, Daryll (Pooch Hall) has his own problems, and Terry (Eddie Marsan) is off in his own little world. Even as Dr. Amiot (Alan Alda) tries in vain to help Ray through his childhood trauma, events are already in motion, including his relationship with Molly Sullivan (Kerry Condon). Is this the end of the series, or is this really the end of it all?

Over the course of seven seasons, “Ray Donovan” had more plot twists per each of its 82 episodes than most other shows did in entire seasons. After seemingly heading toward a conclusion by the end season five, it continued on until the season seven cliffhanger ended the show — unceremoniously cancelled by Showtime without warning as they did “Penny Dreadful” — leaving a lot of unanswered questions. After months of speculation, producer and star Liev Schreiber announced a “final” film to wrap up all the loose ends, including where Ray’s head is at. Then again, plenty of fans only have one question: will Mickey Donovan finally gets what’s coming to him?

Good news, everyone! While the movie does touch upon the season seven cliffhanger, it address the big question head-on: the Mickey situation. It does more than that, in fact; it bookends the series with the event that set Ray and Mickey on their collision course, flashing back as Ray comes to grips with the moment of betrayal. This has been a constant question since the first season: Ray having Mickey dead to rights, letting Mickey go, and Mick getting the family in more hot water with his foolish dime-store scams. The conclusions to many lingering questions only get a brief nod rather than a season eight exploration, but it thankfully resolves Ray’s biggest headache… even if it’s not the happiest of endings.

Due to flashback and exposition, a full third of the running time is devoted to a younger cast as the main characters in a story running concurrently with the modern action. The manic moments that defined most episodes of this series is slowed down for the exposition, which works for a series finale… but also feels less like “Ray Donovan.” Too bad there wasn’t enough time for newer characters like Molly, but at least we get to see Katherine Moennig’s Lena in Los Angles one more time. The total production isn’t as fulfilling as a season or even an episode, but fans won’t mind what they’ll get.

There have already been speculations about the final scene, including from Schreiber himself. In spite of this being “a conclusion,” no one wants to permanently close the door on everyone’s favorite fixer. That’s not to say fans will ever see the guys again — don’t get your hopes up — but there are plenty of places that a future series could still go.

Ray Donovan, The Movie is rated TV-MA, but Showtime still owes viewers a Penny Dreadful, The Movie because they were damn sure setting up a fourth season.

Three skull recommendation out of four

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