Michael Flatley chooses not to go high camp and plays it solemn in his endearingly daft directorial debut.

Having made Irish dancing sexy, triumphed in the boxing ring, and conquered the worlds of flute music and painting with his feet, it only seems right that fleet of foot renaissance man Michael Flatley should turn auteur with his very first spy movie caper.

He first announced Blackbird as far back as 2018 and the very idea of the Irish-American hoofer as an action hero was always going to raise a giggle in Ireland, a country that has a fondly bemused attitude to the cabaret Celt.

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Well, here it is in all its wonky glory, and it is what we might have expected - an ego-driven thriller with few actual thrills that plays it solemn and chooses not to grab the golden opportunity for camp laughs (death by tap dance, ordeal by Ceili... that kind of thing) and knowing silliness.

Chicago-born Flatley has written, directed and takes the leading role in this budget Bond and it is mostly an unintended hoot. It is hard to tell exactly when it slips into the so-bad-it's-good pantheon of naff, but the snort-out-loud quotient is high. The giggles far outnumber the fist-pumping cheers.

He plays Victor Blackley, a man of action and honour and a former member of the Chieftains (not those ones, silly), a motley brigand of special ops agents with a special set of skills who used to eliminate bad guys. However, after a mission goes horribly wrong and his girlfriend is killed, Victor gives it all up and opens a luxurious hotel called the Blue Moon in Barbados. Here, he wears a hat at a jaunty angle during the day and swans around in a tuxedo at night. "It’s a good life!" he says to anyone who will listen.

Michael Flatley as Victor Blackley and Ian Beattie as Nick in Blackbird

However, he is still haunted by the death of his lover and when the smarmy Blake Molyneaux (a very game Eric Roberts) and his innocent fiancée Vivian (Nicole Evans) crash into this blissful tableau, Victor suspects something may be afoot but turns a blind eye. You can tell this Molyneaux creep is a baddie because he drinks champagne with his pasta, and it turns out he’s an international arms dealer who is using the Blue Moon as the meeting place to close a major deal with some African warlords.

As an actor, Flatley plays Victor as a wounded survivor of his former life. He is laconic and introverted but this is a very inert action movie that just hasn’t got enough deadpan quips. Deliciously, before one of the precious few fight scenes, Victor grins, "shall we dance?" and when he goes to confession with a wise old local priest, it bequeaths us the best line in Blackbird. More of this would have been good.

However, everyone seems to speak in noble aphorisms. When Victor grinds out a garbled little speech about the curse of narcissism, your irony meter may go into the red. But it’s not the dialogue that will make you cringe. It’s Blackbird’s less than enlightened portrayal of women. They are either flunkies or eye candy draped across yachts or sashaying around the hotel. In a gaping plot hole in a script that’s already like a ripped pair of fishnets, the limpid Vivian, a former espionage operative, has been with the dastardly Molyneaux for a full FIVE YEARS and hasn’t rumbled that he is a VERY BAD MAN INDEED.

As a first-time director, Flatley has a thing for panning shots, swooping aerial shots, and tracking the camera around the Blue Moon like he’s making an episode of an ancient TV travel show. Meanwhile, a thudding orchestral soundtrack strikes up any time his twinkly eyes cloud over.

Aside from Ian Beattie as gnarly old comic relief Nick, the acting is leaden. Even the scenery looks self-conscious. Patrick Bergin as "The Head" gets to cosplay a secret service chief, who draws attention to himself by wearing a trilby and an overcoat while skulking in telephone boxes at night by the Thames. To which we say, well done for finding a London telephone box that actually works.

Roberts plays it louche and loose as the baddy in the white linen suit as he prowls about looking like an even more distaff Peter O’Toole. He bangs the dinner table in front of his fluttering fiancée, jabs away at an ancient laptop, and gets his henchmen to chuck innocent bystanders into the sea.

Bruce Willis and the egregious Steven Seagal have carved a career out of this kind of straight to oblivion action movie fluff and Flatley hasn’t deviated from the formula. Speaking recently, he said he was told that the whole idea of him making a film was impossible. Well, as his fellow twinkle toes Peter Pan once said, dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough.

Flatley the filmmaker may have two left feet, but have you ever seen Kubrick or Hitchcock dance?

@CorrAlan2