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August 14, 2009

Fifty Dead Men Walking

FiftyDeadMenWalking This explosive genre-buster about Ireland's '80s-era "troubles" centered in the town of Belfast, drills deep down into the true story of controversial IRA figure Martin McGartland (brilliantly played by Jim Sturges). McGartland worked as an undercover "tout" for the occupying British forces. The film's odd title refers roughly to the number of lives saved by McGartland's efforts, even though it meant eventually sending him on the run for the rest of his own life. Ben Kingsley delivers a thoroughly captivating performance as Fergus, a British Special Branch intelligence agent who mentors Martin through the ranks of the IRA, all the while undermining many of the organization's attempted attacks. Writer/director Kari Skogland ("Stone Angel") based the fast-paced film on Martin McGartland's biographical book of the same title and manages to balance the material's intrinsic political conflict and suspense while getting inside the conflicted psyches of its main characters. There's a great filmmaker at work here and plenty of impressive supporting performances from the likes of Natalie Press (as Martin's girlfriend Lara), Kevin Zegers (as Martin's best friend Sean), and Rose McGowan (as IRA femme fatal Grace).
Rated R. 118 mins. (A) (Five Stars)


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