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50 dead men walking

50 Dead Men Walking

Starring Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess, Kevin Zegers, Natalie Press & Rose McGowen
Written and Directed by Kari Skogland
website: www.fiftydeadmenwalkingmovie.com

IN SHORT: A great sit, arthouse or cineplex.. [Rated R for strong brutal violence and torture, language and some sexuality. 117 minutes]

That Americans may not be as involved in the political and/or religious subtext of British life is the only thing that we can think of that could get in the way of enjoying 50 Dead Men Walking, a gripping story of a two faced snitch, buried deep in the IRA by British authorities. Politics aside, we were more distracted by the sight of hair on the normally bald pate of actor Ben Kingsley, but that passed quickly <g>.

For those too young to remember, once upon a time the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland were at each others throats. Depending on which side you were on, the Irish Republican Army were either a liberation force or a force of terrorists. Given that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom (which we Americans usually call Britain, which technically isn't correct) the British Army was sent in to keep the peace. They'd eventually stay for 38 years but that's just background.

In the Northern Ireland of 1980, young Martin McGartland (Jim Sturgess) is a crook. A thief. He's not necessarily a bad guy but one does what one has to to survive. He's not necessarily that good at it, since he is captured by British Intelligence and turned into a stoolie. His handler, Fergus (Ben Kingsley) engineers the deal and uses the information supplied by Martin to undermine IRA attacks. As we said, Martin does what he has to do to survive.

The IRA, on the other hand, does not take too kindly to snitches. Their man Sean (Kevin Zegers) has been best mates with Martin since childhood. Sean vouches for Martin. Martin conducts enough non-murderous IRA activity to worm his way deep into the group. As time goes on, normal life exerts itself and Martin marries a beautiful young lass, Lara (Natalie Press) and fathers a child.

Needless to say, there isn't a happy ending to any of this . . .  which doesn't necessarily mean what you think it does. Simply put, writer/director Kari Skogland has put together a great story. Even if the flashback format throws you off a wee bit, as it did for us, the rest of the film more than compensates.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 50 Dead Men Walking, he would have paid . . .


'tis a fine sit.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Kari Skogland
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