A thriller about an IRA gunman who draws an American family into the crossfire of terrorism. Frankie McGuire is one of the IRA's deadliest assassins. But when he is sent to the U.S. to buy weapons, Frankie is housed with the family of Tom O'Meara, a New York cop who knows nothing about Frankie's real identity. Their surprising friendship, and Tom's growing suspicions, force Frankie to choose between the promise of peace or a lifetime of murder. Written by
Robert Lynch <email@example.com>
Amongst other script problems, a renewed outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland in 1990 forced large revisions. Ironically, the film's release date in 1997 came as peace negotiations had moved forward to such an extent, that the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday Accords) were signed in April 1998. See more »
In the opening scenes the film is meant to be set in Belfast, however the road markings are more like that of where it was filmed - the Republic of Ireland. See more »
Better if you do not expect an action (and especially not a thriller) film
As a child in Ireland, Frankie McGuire (Brad Pitt) sees his dad gunned down for his involvement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). As an adult, McGuire has followed in his dad's footsteps. When the IRA decides it needs more firepower, they hatch a plan that involves McGuire going to the United States to pick up a shipment of Stinger missiles. Through American IRA contacts, McGuire adopts a false identity and housing is arranged with a non-involved Irish family headed by New York City cop Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford).
There is an impression that The Devil's Own is an action film. The Internet Movie Database has it listed as "Action/Drama/Thriller". Although there are some action elements in the film, this is really a tragic drama, almost in a classical sense, and it's best to approach the film with only that genre in mind. The plot is fairly complex and the film tends to move slowly--much more slowly than a typical actioner or thriller.
The heart of the story is McGuire's relationship with O'Meara and his family. All of the other material--the IRA stuff, the mob and terrorist stuff, the New York City cop stuff, and so on, are not the focus. Those elements are present to help establish characterization, to build the relationship and understanding between McGuire and O'Meara, and to provide a justification for the developments in the film, and particularly the conclusion, which all have poignant things to say about the decisions that we make and why we make them.
The film largely succeeds if seen from this dramatic perspective. It's not quite a 10, however, as it always seems slightly distanced from the viewer. It's an 8 out of 10 for me.
(This comment was originally posted on January 16, 2005 and ended with the above. The following was added much later after reading through some other user comments:) We should not forget that even though it takes elements from the real world to construct its story, The Devil's Own is NOT intended to be journalistic or a documentary. There is no claim that it is giving an accurate portrayal of political situations, and it's not intended to campaign for one side or another in a real-world political situation. This is fiction, folks, and should be judged _as fiction_. For that, you should forget about what you know of the real world, and assess the story, images and sounds you experience from your television. Does the story work as a self-contained entity? Are the performances good? Is it visually attractive/rewarding? Those are the kinds of things we should be judging.
For me, The Devil's Own succeeded as a drama about relationships, with its poignancy arrived at primarily by making two people from very different worlds, with very different outlooks, learn to see things from different perspectives.
That's great if you're very knowledgeable about Northern Ireland in the real world and if you have strong opinions about terrorism. However, your knowledge and opinions on that stuff have nothing to do with this film.
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