The presence of Gillian Anderson, who hasn’t made a proper, non-“X Files” movie since 2000’s “House of Mirth,” can’t elevate by-the-numbers adolescent dog-racing drama “The Mighty Celt” above the pack. Pic will be mighty popular at small-fry fests and could score play dates in indiscriminate foreign markets but seems more suitable for puberty-pitched cablers.
In contempo Belfast, young Donal (Tyrone McKenna) spends most of his non-school hours working for greyhound owner Good Joe (Ken Stott). So amoral and ruthless that losing dogs get tied in a sack and chucked into a nearby lake, Good Joe grudgingly agrees to let Donal raise a hound he names the Mighty Celt. Meanwhile, Donal’s bitter, single mom Kate (Anderson, with a spot-on accent), rekindles an old relationship with O (Robert Carlyle), who is surprised to learn he’s Donal’s Da. Good Joe drugs Donal’s dog to win a bet, then metes out customary punishment when he loses. O talks Donal out of exacting revenge on Good Joe. Debuting writer-helmer Pearse Elliott marches briskly through the material, with little pause for reflection or honest emotion. Thesping is capable, tech credits efficient.