Fifty Dead Men Walking (2008)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5

United Kingdom/Canada, 2008.  Handmade International, Future Films, Brightlight Pictures, Future Films Production Services, Altitude Entertainment, SBK Pictures, Skogland Films, Téléfilm Canada, Northern Ireland Screen, Grove Media Finance, Horizon Media Fund, Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.  Screenplay by Kari Skogland, based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Martin McGartland () is a thug selling stolen clothing on the streets of Belfast who, along with his ruffian buddy , gets recruited into the IRA. A member of the British police () recognizes his gusto attitude and charismatic skill and recruits him to spy on his mates for the good guys, which McGartland does despite the danger to himself and his girlfriend (). Things obviously go from simmer to boil or they wouldn’t have bothered to even make the film version of McGartland’s own autobiography, and when they do you can just bet they get pretty scary (the author is actually still in hiding, but somehow managed to see the film and approve its fictionalized content). Kari Skogland has directed a derivative IRA thriller that may not be as pointless as The Devil’s Own, but gets nowhere near the majesty of The Wind That Shakes The Barley or even The Crying Game. She puts a lot of her gunpower into producing high-octane, emotionally riveting scenes of drama and action, but the film has no soul and its familiar characters become dull:  Sturgess is emotionally opaque and too much of a challenge to hang an entire movie on. Irish people by this point are probably too used to being portrayed as psychotic thugs to really care about the very negative view of their culture, but they might mind the fact that the only actual Irish actors are playing background wackos while the lead roles go to foreigners with blarney-stone accents.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2008

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