Car bombs dominate the cinematic landscape in Kill the Irishman. They do so literally, as there’s practically a new explosion every ten minutes, and psychologically, as the fear of the bomb, the pervasive threat of a sudden and spectacular death, powerfully informs the lives of the gangsters in filmmaker Jonathan Hensleigh’s true portrait of the mob wars that rocked 1970s Cleveland. The thick, persistent tension which comes with the understanding that it could all be over at any second cuts through the familiar mob movie tropes. Despite the presence of standards such as clandestine meetings in dark restaurants and thickly-accented spaghetti-inhaling goombas, Hensleigh’s film — which he co-wrote with Jeremy Walters (based on a book by Rick Porrello, an Ohio police chief) — hews closer in tone to a war picture than Goodfellas. Thus, with notable visceral force, the film conveys organized crime’s sheer futility, the pervasive notion that it’s comprised of grown men with outsized egos engaged in deadly battles for scraps of nothing.