Based on Martin McGartland's shocking real life story. Martin is a young lad from west Belfast in the late 1980s who is recruited by the British Police to spy on the IRA. He works his way ... See full summary »
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Based on Martin McGartland's shocking real life story. Martin is a young lad from west Belfast in the late 1980s who is recruited by the British Police to spy on the IRA. He works his way up the ranks as a volunteer for the IRA whilst feeding information to his British handler and saving lives in the process. Written by
In an early scene in the film, Martin looks over at Ray who is standing amongst a group of children. Some of the children, obviously extras from the area, are wearing anachronistic clothing such as polyester track pants. See more »
His name is Martin McGartland, and when I met him he was an unemployed Catholic hood selling stolen goods.
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50 DEAD MEN WALKING is an unusually powerful film that brings to the screen the real life story of Martin McGartland on whose book it is based (with co-writer Nicholas Davies). Director Kari Skogland has managed to recreate the flavors of the 1980s in Ireland at war with the British. The violence in the film may be difficult for some viewers but it so integrated with the story that it would not seem as fine a film without it.
Martin McGartland (Jim Sturgess) was a fly-by-night, door-to-door salesman in Belfast in the 80s. He is bonded with mates such as Sean (Kevin Zegers) among others and they manage to get into all manner of trouble until they are united with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) to defeat the British: of note at the end of the film, the British were in Ireland as occupiers for a total of 38 years, ending only in 2008 with a peace treaty! Martin feels a sense of duty with the IRA and is observed by the British intelligence, namely one Fergus (Sir Ben Kingsley) who convinces Martin to join forces as a 'tout' or informer within the IRA. It is this play of double lives that brings McGartland to a terrifying life, a life made whole only by his love for his girlfriend Lara (Natalie Press) and their children (born and unborn). The struggle Martin endures between loyalty to his mates and loyalty to the British who see Martin's role as one that could save the lives of at least '50 Dead Men Walking' is the line of the film that never lets up for a moment of rest in its demonstration of the futility of 'war', no matter what level.
Jim Sturgess is superb as Martin and the large supporting cast is as fine as any casting director could find. This is a very intense film, a film so true to the Irish brogue that subtitles are necessary to understand much of the story. It is a film well worth viewing, especially if the confusion about the long Irish/British war is not clearly understood by the viewer.
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