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A Prayer for the Dying
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A Prayer for the Dying More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Definitely the best Mickey Rourke film

Author: Ghost-Cat from Louisville, KY
7 August 1999

It is a mystery for me how the great movies sometimes fall through the cracks. I don't expect it to be everyone's favorite but being completely missed by almost everybody? It puzzles me. If you up for a tough and disturbing movie tonight rent it. You won't be disappointed.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:


Author: markymark70 from Ireland
25 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mickey Rourke is enjoying a renaissance at the moment... and fair play to him. I always liked his image and his acting ability in such fare as Angel Heart and Johnny Handsome. You know what you are going to get with Rourke - mean, moody, dirty. But this film gives you much more - and you don't want most of it.

First and foremost - this whole thing just doesn't make sense. Rourke is a hardened IRA killer who after killing a bus-load of schoolchildren flees Ireland for London. He is on the run from the cops and from his own Army comrades. He has also vowed to never kill again. It looks like the bus full of kids finally did it for him.

However, when he gets to London he is tracked down by a local mobster (Bates - looking like his eyebrows and hair came straight off a Burton's dummy) to kill his main competitor in turn for £50,000 and a boat trip to the US. Rourke reluctantly agrees to do it but is seen by a priest (Hoskins) and confesses the crime to him in the confessional in order to keep the priest's mouth shut. He figures it is better than killing him.

A wealth of things arise here which just don't add up :

1. Why pick Rourke to off your competition? As is illustrated by a scene whereby an employee is pinned to a wall by a couple of heavies with what look like awls - these London guys are tough enough anyway to do their own killing.

2. Not only that but the Mobster gets a guy to follow Rourke and witness the killing with his own eyes. Why didn't that guy simply kill the competitor and save all the hassle of dealing with Rourke?

3.Hoskins sees the murder take place and the police let him go off - without protection, I may add - to take confession? No way.

4. Rourke hangs around the church (right next to where he carried out the murder ) immediately after the crime takes place to go to confession. Why aren't the cops checking the place out?

5. Rourke hangs around the church and Hoskin's blind niece in particular, for days afterward without anybody bothering him. What? He's on the run and he stays put by the very place where he committed another murder? Stupid.

6. The cops actually meet Rourke in the church "fixing" the organ and have no idea who he is. Do they not know he is on the run for the school bus bombing? They don't even check up on him?

7. Why get Rourke to kill for you, and then tell him to wait around for a few days to get on the boat? You'd think you'd want to get rid of him immediately. Or kill him. One or the other?

8. Why does Bates' brother suddenly decide to rape the blind niece in the midst of all the waiting? Could he not restrain himself for a few days? At least until Rourke has been safely offed to the States? Ridiculous.

9. Rourke suddenly has inner turmoil after all his years of killing and wins over the blind niece immediately - even after she knows he is a killer, she still loves him? Again - utterly ludicrous. And besides - she falls in "love" with him in record time - a few days !!!!

10. The whole bomb thing at the end is just plain silly from Bates' point of view.

11. Things happen in parts of this film that just do not make sense or are simply in there to help the storyline (and I say that in jest) along. Bates' houses Rourke in a whorehouse until the boat is ready to sail and Rourke suddenly displays a moral high ground to respect the whore in the house - but yet will bed a blind girl.

12. Rourke asks a henchman on the boat where Bates is - and the henchman practically spurts out the entire movements of his boss in less than 10 seconds. It was embarrassing - the guy was telling Rourke far more than he even asked.

13. Hoskin's priest is an ex-army guy and we see him beat up three henchmen behind a pub. Totally uncalled-for and yet another cringe-worthy scene.

I'm gonna stop there at unlucky 13 without mentioning Rourke's hair (so falsely red it is laughable), his accent (which to be fair is not too bad sometimes but deteriorates to a barely heard mumble at other times), his clothes, walk, looks to the heavens etc. Nor will I mention the music and the choppy editing style.

Oooppps - I have just mentioned them.

Overall - a disaster of a film with some obvious religious imagery thrown in (Rourke on the cross, preaching from a pulpit) which would embarrass a first year film student never mind a top star and director.


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20 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Moving performances from Mickey Rourke, Bob Hoskins.

Author: Don Miller (donjmiller) from Portland, Oregon, USA
16 December 2003

Fine character portrayals by Rourke, Hoskins, Davis and Bates. If you don't generally think highly of him, don't be put off by Rourke starring; he shines in this ensemble piece . If you only think of Hoskins as a humorous figure, see this movie for a new perspective.

The plot is dark; the pace, at times, deliberate, but it maintains its intensity well, for most of the film, through to its satisfying, if somewhat abrupt, conclusion.


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17 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Another Great one for Mickey

Author: fanaticita from USA
23 January 2004

Gotta admit, I'm on a Mickey Rourke run, having just seen Angel Heart, Barfly, and Francesco. A Prayer for the Dying is a wonderful piece of work -teriffic acting by all, including Bates, Hoskins, etc. Mickey Rourke has to be one of the most under-rated actors in the industry. His "bad-boy" image hasn't helped, as it has helped other actors who fall into the same category. He reminds me a lot of Steve McQueen -subtle, intense, controlled acting, but when the action is needed he delivers. I sincerely hope he has a comeback sometime soon. In the meantime, run to your nearest video store and rent this great film. There are some incredible moments that I won't forget anytime soon. This story has been told before: bad guy trying to get away from the badness. . . but Rourke makes is all new, by adding his own unique charism. See it.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Mickey Rourke's 3rd Best Movie - IRA Terrorist with a Heart

Author: blackiceuk from Bristol, England
12 September 2003

In my opinion Mickey Rourke's third best movie, the first being "Angel Heart" and the second being "Year of the Dragon".

Rourke teamed up with Mike Hodges the director of such classics as "Get Carter" and the more recent "Croupier" in April of 1986 in London.

The whole movie was filmed on location in London, the Irish scenes at the beginning were filmed probably in Herts. The actual church is in Canning in London, near the ill fated Millennium Dome and still stands today. It wasn't being used as a church at the time, and the roof damage was real due to a bombing in the second world war. The church still stands and is currently used as a community centre.

Rourke plays Martin Fallon an IRA terrorist with a heart who recently bombed a school bus by accident and fled to London to evade the IRA and start again. He is taken on by local kingpin Jack Meehan played by a very camp Alan Bates whom has a day job of a funeral director and by night a nasty villain who wants Fallon to do one last job and he will pay him well and give him a passport and ticket to the US.

The mark Fallon is to kill is another local kingpin whom Meehan wants dead so he can take over his drug business. The mark he has to kill always visits his mother in a local church where Fallon shoots him, but is seen by Father Da Costa played very well by Bob Hoskins. Da Costa won't co-operate with the police after hearing Fallon's confession and the whole movie then is based around Jack Meehan trying to kill Fallon and the Da Costa.

Rourke's accent is spot on, maybe not to a true Irishman, but certainly to most it is very good, and his acting is on top form.

Hoskins is believable and carries of being a vicar fairly well, and the script also tells he is an ex army officer which gives him a bit of reason to be little rough on some of the villains.

Look out for a young Anthony Head (from Buffy) and a blind Sammi Davis whom was very popular in a lot of Ken Russell movies from the early 90's.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Maybe worth a look.

Author: gridoon
28 November 2001

Completely (and rather unjustly) forgotten today, this is an offbeat, interesting dramatic thriller based on a book that seems to lift its basic idea from Alfred Hitchcock's "I Confess" (actually, I haven't seen "I Confess" yet, but everybody knows its premise). The movie has a great cast and makes an earnest attempt to combine psychodrama with more traditional thriller elements. The main problem is that, once the basic situation has been (elaborately) set up, the story seems to get stalled and has nowhere to go. There is also a subplot, involving Liam Neeson in an early role as Mickey Rourke's old comrade in the IRA, that's ultimately just a waste of time. (**)

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Grade: C-

Author: tideprince from San Fernando Valley, CA
10 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A bizarre, rather disappointing choice for nearly all involved. The film is essentially an action movie, although it certainly makes an effort to rise above its lowly fate as such and make a statement about the ability to forgive others, and ultimately to forgive yourself. Mike Hodges' biggest mistake is not letting the film be what it was meant to be, a thriller.

It begins with Irish Republican Army operatives Martin Fallon (Mickey Rourke) and Liam Docherty (a game Liam Neeson) overseeing the bombing of an English army transport truck. The bombing goes awry, however, and a schoolbus carrying a handful of children is detonated instead. In the ensuing chaos, Martin and Liam are separated. Guilt-stricken, Martin goes on the run. Liam is sent by his IRA superiors to find Martin and either bring him back or kill him.

Martin wants to drop out of the terrorist business and go to America. In order to get the papers he needs from creepy crime boss/undertaker Jack Meehan (Alan Bates), he agrees to one last job, the assassination of a rival gang leader. Martin goes to a cemetery to do the job, but is witnessed by Father Da Costa (Bob Hoskins). In order to prevent the priest from identifying him to the police, Martin confesses his crime to Da Costa.

And that's when things get complicated. Meehan wants Martin to off the priest, but Martin says he's done killing. Da Costa is uncomfortable with keeping Martin's secret, but as a Catholic priest he has no choice. And Liam is closing in on Martin every day.

There are moments of genuine pathos, mostly thanks to Mickey Rourke, who does his absolute best with the material at hand. The more I see of him, the more I'm reminded of what Marlon Brando was like in his youth. Aside from a significant facial and physical resemblance, they share a vulnerability on screen that's very unusual. For the most part, however, this is silly stuff, especially Fallon's romance with Da Costa's blind niece (a godawful Sammi Davis). That was just unnecessary.

I should probably mention that Alan Bates makes a pretty terrific villain, and he's almost worth the price of a rental all by himself. Not quite, but almost. There's also some fine cinematography. The score got on my nerves though; in fact, you could say the score is a perfect metaphor for the film. It weaved from mournful, evocative Irish folk music to typical action-adventure crap, often within heartbeats of one another.

Overall, an uneven, occasionally dull effort. Huzzah for Alan Bates for keeping it interesting though.

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Lacks Anything Resembling Realism

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
8 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mickey Rourke ( who was once a famous movie star ) plays Martin Fallon an IRA terrorist who accidentally blows up a school bus full of children who is so disgusted by his actions decides to leave the IRA and goes on the run in London


The movie's opening is rather disturbing as the lives of little children are ended in a fireball . Things like this happened throughout the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s in Northern Ireland which gives A PRAYER FOR THE DYING a stark realism . However as soon as Fallon decides he's going to give up violence ( What ? He's a terrorist and he's never blown up innocent passerbys before ? ) realism disappears and clichés and ridiculous plot twists take place . Martin is employed by the London underworld ( Don't they have their own hit men ? )to commit a hit while he wears an IRA " uniform " ( Never knew the provos wore uniforms ) at a cemetery in broad daylight ( Wouldn't an IRA man use a bomb placed under a car ? ) where he's spotted by a priest who recognises him while he was in the SAS . Hands up who thinks I'm lying ? I'm not and we're half way through the running time and there's still several clichés to come

This all sounds very silly and it is but what do you expect from a novel by Jack Higgins ? Everything is clichéd , contrived and stereotypical and the bits that aren't are just plain bizarre . The critics slaughtered this movie when it came out , most notably they stated that it might have some potential if the movie had Bob Hoskins playing gangster Jack Meehan and Alan Bates playing the SAS soldier turned priest and for once the critics would have been right . They should also noted the film might have been less dire if Fallon was played by someone who was capable of doing an Irish accent . Rourke might be hunky and macho ( Oh gawd another movie with an IRA uberhunk ) but accents aren't his strong point any more than character acting is . To give you an idea how disappointing PRAYER FOR THE DYING IS the director ended up disowning it which is always a bad sign

As a footnote the original release of PRAYER FOR THE DYING in Britain was delayed for several months because of " The Enniskillen bombing " . In November 1987 the Provisional IRA exploded a bomb in the centre of Enniskillen where a Remembrance Day parade which commemorates Britain's war dead was being held . Eleven ( 11 ) people were killed and scores more injured . It wasn't an accident and no one left the IRA because of it

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14 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Possibly one of the best movies, ever.

Author: The_Mad_Russian from Ontario, Canada
30 January 2003

Based on the Jack Higgins novel of the same name, A Prayer for the Dying follows an IRA hitman (Rourke) who has seen enough and wants to come clean. Chased the cops and the IRA as well as a notorious gangster, Rourke (as Martin Fallon) has to protect a priest who he has implicated in a murder. While some of the supporting actors aren't the most impressive, I think that this is Rourke's best work. He plays a man with a haunted past who wants desperately to put an end to the cycle of violence that has followed him for years.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not one of Mickey's finest films

Author: Ed-Shullivan from Canada
21 November 2013

Already a quarter century has passed since A Prayer for the Dying was first released, and I don't think age has been kind to either Mickey's character portrayal of an IRA bomber named Martin Fallon, nor to the films story line. I believe Mickey Rourke to be a fine actor whose body of work has been solid decade by decade. He is an actor that I look forward to seeing what he plans to do next. I just don't think this particular screen play was very realistic, so first rate actors such as Mickey Rourke, Bob Hoskins, Liam Neeson and Alison Doody who had thought they had ordered top grade steak were served ground beef instead for the screenplay.

The movie is about Martin Fallon a cold hearted IRA bomber who hangs up his TNT after accidentally blowing up a school bus of children which was intended for another IRA target. Of course Martin Fallon is forced to come out of retirement for just one last hit which he completes for another mobster appropriately at a cemetery. Unfortunately Martin fails to see the priest Father Michael Da Costa who witnesses his assassination. The priest is played by the very versatile actor Bob Hoskins.

Yes, there was a steady stream of IRA villains planning other hits, the London Bobby's were continually chasing after the elusive IRA bomber Martin Fallon, the Irish mob wanting their own way, and the film even had a blind damsel in distress named Anna played by Sammi Davis who Martin Fallon falls in love with.

Even with all this potential, and actors of the highest caliber, the film lacked any depth of true characters or continuous suspense. Instead, I felt the movie just plodded on through out and left me half way through the film expecting little more to come of it other than a disappointing ending which was the case.

I give the film a rare 5 out of 10 only on the strength of Mickey Rourke and Bob Hoskins, otherwise my rating would have been even lower.

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