Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movie Review: 50 Dead Men Walking

Fifty Dead Men Walking ***
Directed by:
Kari Skogland.
Written By: Kari Skogland based on the book by Nicholas Davies & Martin McGartland.
Starring: Jim Sturgess (Martin McGartland), Ben Kingsley (Fergus), Nathalie Press (Lara), Kevin Zegers (Sean), Rose McGowan (Rosena Brown).

Capsule Review

Fifty Dead Men Walking tells a different type of story about the “troubles” in Ireland. Most of the movies I have seen have been more sympathetic to the Irish, but Fifty Dead Men Walking takes a more balanced view. This is a film without real “good guys” and “bad guys”, just people who are trying to do their best in the situation that they are in. Jim Sturgis stars as Martin McGartland, a young Irish kid in the late 1980s. He is fairly apolitical. He doesn’t like the British occupying his country, but he isn’t about to let them get in the way of his making money. He is a low level street hustler. A British Intelligence agent, code named Fergus (Ben Kingsley) recruits him. Martin’s best friend Sean (Kevin Zegers) is a bomb maker for the IRA, and Fergus wants Martin to report on his activities. Soon, Martin is drafted into the IRA himself, and is able to start feeding more and more useful information. Of course, if he gets caught it means instant death for him. But with a pregnant girlfriend (Natalie Press), he finds he needs the money. Directed by Kari Skogland, the film is fast paced and entertaining. Although there isn’t a lot of action in the film, the film is intense, with a constant sense of danger hanging over it. Sturgis and Kingsley are both excellent in the film, but in different ways. Sturgis is energetic and charming, whereas Kingsley is much more subdued and still. They sell the uncommonly close bond they two share together. Nathalie Press is also quite good as in the normally nothing role of the “wife”. Perhaps it’s because the film was written and directed by a woman, but the film takes the family issues at the center of the film much more seriously than most movies do. The film does have a few flaws, including a subplot involving Rosena Brown (Rose McGowan, doing a very bad Irish accent), an IRA intelligence operator who wants Martin. And Kevin Zegers also never quite nails the Irish accent, and his labored performance hurts the relationship between Martin and Sean. But overall, the film is quite entertaining and well made.

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