Earlier today I wrote that Kerry Condon‘s performance in Robert Lorenz‘s In The Land of Saints and Sinners (Samuel Goldwyn, 3.29) amounts to “one of the greatest female villains ever…a feisty, take-no-shit-from-anyone IRA firebrand.”

There’s no rolling your eyes or waving this woman away — she holds eye contact, means every feckin’ word and is full of absolute conviction and a fair amount of controlled rage. Condon’s character, Doireann McCann, won’t take “no” or “maybe” from anyone about anything, and her eyes are fierce and flaming. Talk about a fascinating lady from the word “go.”

In The Land of Saints and Sinners is “a Liam Neeson movie,” and we all know what that means — a steady and stalwart Neeson fellow who’s not looking for trouble and in fact would like to back off into a shelter or backwater of some kind, and then a slow burning, a gradually tightening situation, implications of tough terms, bad people up to bad stuff (including the threat of serious harm to a couple of innocent characters as well as to Neeson’s guy) until it all blows up in the end.

But the story, set in rural Ireland in the mid ’70s, pulls you in bit by bit, and the script has been carefully and compellingly written by Mark Michael McNally and Terry Loane, and the shaping of Condon’s character is exceptional. You can call Doireann a volcanic madwoman, but that would be selling her short or at least putting it too simply. She’s a villain, all right, but she doesn’t believe in playing it cool or fair or even-steven. You can’t help but believe every damn word she says, and at least respecting whatever it was that put so much acid into her blood. Not a woman to be trifled with.

I certainly didn’t see Doireann as some kind of broad charicature or cliche…some kind of Irish Cruella de Ville. She’s way too blistering for that.

All I know is that I sat up in my seat when Condon came along and start giving orders and barking questions and challenging and intimidating pretty much everyone, and I’m thinking of watching the film again just for her performance.