Review

  • Based on the life and shocking murder of real Irish crime reporter, Veronica Guerin, Joan Allen gives a solid performance as gutsy Sunday Globe hack Sinead Hamilton.

    John Mackenzie's film remains largely faithful to its real life inspiration's story and does not hold back on the brutality of the Dublin underworld. Nothing is spared from the slaying of Pete Postlethwaite's Martin Cahill style character Shaughnessy to the chilling death of a young heroin addict in a Dublin nightclub. Funded by Rupert Murdoch's Sky Movies channel in the UK, the movie sometimes struggles to overcome its tight budget and the made for television feel. However in 'The Long Good Friday' director's capable hands, it often succeeds particularly with a spectacular car chase through the centre of Dublin.

    Where the film really scores is in its supporting performances - most notably, Jimmy Smallhorne as Hamilton's underworld confidante, Ruairi Conroy as a heroin addict, Liam Cunningham and Postlethwaite as old school crooks and particularly, Gerard Flynn as Hamilton's nemesis Hackett and Gavin Kielty as the skinhead, Tattoo. Mackenzie also somehow manages to wring out decent performances from Patrick Bergin as the frustrated cop, Mackey and Jason Barry as his partner.

    If there are drawbacks it is the flatness of the relationship between Hamilton and her husband (Kevin McNally) - oddly reminiscent of the relationship between Lacey and her husband in Cagney and Lacey. The newspaper scenes are also a bit hackneyed - bearing little resemblance to real life newsrooms.

    A superior film to Dublin crime pics, Ordinary Decent Criminal and The Vicious Circle, it still falls short of the visual, narrative and performing heights of John Boorman's The General. Nevertheless, When the Sky Falls is still good entertainment and one of the more honest biopics you are likely to see in cinemas this year. It will be interesting to see how this film travels beyond Ireland where Guerin's death caused so much outrage.