Friday, July 31, 2009

Walking Dead Have Luck Of The Irish

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Jason Reitman and George Clooney added to the TIFF. lineup (Latest Press Release)

This was originally posted in my 2008 Toronto Film Festival Recap. The review has been fixed up and re-posted as the film was finally released in theatres today.

50 Dead Men Walking

Jim Sturgess finally convinces me that he can carry a film through his great performance in Kari Skogland’s Fifty Dead Men Walking. Based on the book by Martin McGartland, the film documents the real life events of McGartland’s encounters with both British Intelligence and the Irish Republic Army.

Strugess plays Martin, a man who goes from being petty hustler to a British informant in Ireland during the volatile 1980’s. Recruited by a British Intelligence agent, Fergus (Ben Kingsley), Martin is forced to inform the British on all the activities of the Irish Republic Army. The higher Martin moves up the I.R.A. ranks, the more privileged information he gains access to. Yet Martin quickly discovers that the list of people “in the know”, regarding bombings etc., starts to dwindle the higher up the ladder Martin gets. Ultimately making it harder for Martin to both cover up his tracks within the IRA, and maintain his level of production for the British.

While an enjoyable film the one thing that might hinder your enjoyment of the film is the dialogue. More specifically, the fact that there will be many moments when you will have no clue what people are saying. Some of the Belfast accents are so thick, and the characters speak so quickly, that at times it is tough to keep up. Still if you can live with not understanding what people are saying every now and then, there is much to recommend in Fifty Dead Men Walking. Sturgess and Kingsley have good chemistry together. The bond that their characters form feels natural and you understand why certain decisions are made later on. Similar to Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, though not quite as good, Kari Skogland maintains the right level of tension throughout. Skogland always leaves the audiences with a sense that at any moment things could crumble for Martin. Fifty Dead Men Walking does not bring anything new to the double agent genre, yet it is still entertaining enough to keep the audience glued to the very end.

For more Big Thoughts From A Small Mind's 2009 Reviews


  1. It's nice to see this get a solid review. It just came out today where I live and I've been curious about it ever since seeing the trailer a couple months ago. It definitely sounds like a movie I'd enjoy.

  2. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on it when you get around to seeing it. The film is not getting a big marketing push here, but I guess it is tough to compete with all the big budget summer films out now.


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