Monday, August 3, 2009


Action, thriller
Based on a true story

Jim Sturgess: 22-year-old street hustler Martin “Marty” McGartland
Natalie Press: his girlfriend Lara
Kevin Zegers: Marty’s best friend Sean
Conor MacNeill: Frankie, another of Marty’s mates
Tom Collins: IRA Belfast Brigade leader Mickey Johnson
Ben Kingsley: British Special Branch interrogations officer code-named Fergus
Rose McGowan: senior member of the IRA

The situation in Northern Ireland is confusing at the best of times so it takes more than a dozen on-screen captions identifying some people and the occasional voice over to sort things out. Furthermore the thick Belfast accent often makes it impossible to comprehend what they are saying. I was fortunate in that the screening I saw had French subtitles which I used to “translate” the on screen dialogue. But one should not have to rely on a lucky happenstance to be able to understand what is being said.

A lot is going on and it’s not always clear what is happening nor why. So there are huge plot gaps. For example what was Marty’s motivation for his actions (revenge for what happened to his friend?). We should not have to guess at important things like that.

There are some fine performances by the main cast (well maybe not McGowan’s) and excellent work by the makeup department. The squeamish like me will have to avert their eyes about half way through when the IRA Internal Security Unit attempts to get a confession from a suspected “tout” or squealer.

for disturbing images, explicit portrayals of violence and language.

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