27 user 21 critic

A Prayer for the Dying (1987)

Martin, an I.R.A. hitman, is seen by a Catholic priest while carrying out a hit. He grows a bond with the priest and his niece. But his past and his former employers put all their lives in danger.


Mike Hodges


Jack Higgins (novel), Edmund Ward (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Mickey Rourke ... Martin Fallon
Bob Hoskins ... Father Michael Da Costa
Alan Bates ... Jack Meehan
Sammi Davis ... Anna
Christopher Fulford ... Billy Meehan
Liam Neeson ... Liam Docherty
Leonard Termo ... Bonati
Camille Coduri ... Jenny Fox
Maurice O'Connell Maurice O'Connell ... Superintendant Miller
Alison Doody ... Siobhan Donovan
Karl Johnson ... Fitzgerald
Ian Bartholomew Ian Bartholomew ... Kristou
Peggy Aitchison Peggy Aitchison ... Mrs. Orton
Cliff Burnett Cliff Burnett ... Fred Varley
Anthony Head ... Rupert


Martin Fallon is an I.R.A. bomber who tries to blow up a troop truck, but instead kills a bus load of school children. He loses heart and quits the movement and goes to London trying to leave the U.K. and start a new life. The I.R.A. wants him back (he knows too much) and the local crime boss, Meehan, will only help him if he performs one last hit, on a rival crime boss. When Fallon does perform the hit, he is seen by a Catholic priest. He refuses to kill an innocent again, and must find a way to escape the police without killing the priest who can identify him. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Freedom always comes with a price. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


According to the book "Made in Yorkshire" (2008) by Tony Earnshaw, the above-mentioned planned 1970s version of this movie intended to shoot in Leeds, which is the city where Jack Higgins' source novel is set. The movie was to star Lee Marvin and be written and directed by Edward Dmytryk. The book features photos of Marvin and Dmytryk scouting locations in Leeds. See more »


Martin Fallon: Nobody touches the priest.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits begin to roll up from behind the amusement park rides on the horizon. See more »

Alternate Versions

There's an unknown director's cut for which Mike Hodges originally had John Scott to compose the music. However the producers decided that they didn't like it and hired Bill Conti to redo the music. Also, after watching Hodges' cut, Samuel Goldwyn recut the film for American audience who wanted an action movie. Both Hodges and Mickey Rourke publically disowned the theatrical cut. See more »


Referenced in The Boondock Saints (1999) See more »


Panis Angelicus
Music by César Franck
See more »

User Reviews

Thriller drama packs intrigue , action , sentimentality and a wonderful love story
2 March 2011 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Harsh crime drama deals with a lonely IRA hit-man named Fallon (Mickey Rourke )sickened by the murder along with his partner (Liam Neeson) of innocent people in Northern Ireland . He is on the run but has to complete one last assignment , when happens to be witnessed by a priest (Bob Hopkins ) who becomes an unwitting associate when the killer hides out at the church . The execution is duly carried out , triggering off the rest of argument. Fallon long to quit , is a man with nowhere to run . He has come to London where is pursued by the Ira (Alison Doody) ,the police and a mobster (Alan Bates )and his brother (Christopher Fulfold) . Meanwhile the hit-man falls in love with the priest's blind niece (Sammi Davis).

This is a dramatic film , well paced , often interesting and never boring ; it's plenty of action , thrills, suspense , a love story and quite entertaining . This picture further afield both in terms of location and theme have not led to the full realization of his potential . Actors make a great job , Rourke sporting a decent Irish character , over-the-top Hopkins in a worthy role and fine performances from Alan Bates and Christopher Fulford as underworld kingpins. Very secondary acting of Anthony Head , subsequently famous as the teacher in Buffy Vampire slayer and Sammi Davis screen debut . The atmosphere is splendidly captured in steely color photography. Very good musical score by Bill Conti who composes a sensible and evocative soundtrack , much better than his Rocky saga . The drama that surrounded this film is all of interest and rarely tiring but small beer at box-office , then Hodges came to a grinding halt for some years . Furthermore , Mike Hodges and Mickey Rourke were not satisfied with terminated movie .

The motion picture is professionally realized by British director Mike Hodges of extraordinarily varied experience . After successful direction for TV thrillers , he encouraged to try for the big screen. He looked set for a solid career in urban drama after the success of his first movie ¨Get Carter¨ . He subsequently realized flops as the comedy ¨Pulp¨ and Sci-Fi as ¨The terminal man¨ and a lunatic farce as ¨Morons from outer space ¨. ¨Flash Gordon¨was his contribution to the big budget super-film until ¨The prayer for the dying¨ with action scenes are sharply , toughly staged , but achieved a limited success ; however being nowadays better deemed. Rating : Good 6,5 . The film will appeal to Mickey Rourke fans and thriller buffs .

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Release Date:

11 September 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Prayer for the Dying See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$881,793, 13 September 1987

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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