In a city left torn by war, when a series of murders awaken dormant memories, many fear the worst. Colm Meaney and Malcolm Sinclair star in a film set between war and peace. Times are changing, car bombs are less common and terrorists find themselves out of work, but old habits die hard. And while most go quietly into the night, one man must find the few who won?t comply. A greying assassin has stopped walking his son to school. With motives buried deep in the Irish conflict, everyone is about to discover that the past matters to someone…
Genre : Crime/Drama
Country : Ireland
Colm Meaney : Detective
Malcolm Sinclair : Chief Constable
Tommy O’Neill : Eerste Minister
“Three more bodies. It’s an epidemic.”
Apparently, the package the press received from Adnuco Production caused quite a stir. The presentation contained the DVD and was supplemented with material that could be handy for terrorists like a balaclava, a handful of nails and duct tape. I am convinced that seeing this content was more exciting than the content of this movie.
“A Belfast Story” is situated in Ireland (quite obviously) and has a real Irish atmosphere. The beautiful scenery with its wavy hills, the folk music that can be heard throughout the film in a non-interfering manner in the background, the local pubs, the known working class houses (although it could be in Liverpool district as well) and of course the succulent Irish accent that is spoken. Unmistakably a sign that genuine Irish actors and actresses were asked for this movie.
But Ireland is also inextricably linked to the IRA (Irish Republican Army), the paramilitary organization which fought for an independent Ireland with no ties to the United Kingdom and tried to achieve that by committing bloody bombings which also caused innocent civilian victims. In “A Belfast Story” former members of the IRA are systematically murdered. It seems, therefore, that there is now someone taking revenge on them. Or is it an attempt to stir up the unrest that ravaged Ireland.
Colm “Star Trek O’Brien” Meaney is the seasoned detective who investigates who the perpetrators are. He is a rather dusty and corny character. A detective who is about to retire and who knows the tricks of the trade when it’s about the IRA. He’s also someone who’s emotionally scarred from this battle and that rises the question whether he wants to solve this matter or not? Chief Constable (Malcolm Sinclair) called him “Last of his kind”.
I like to watch occasionally an old-fashioned “who-has-done-it” detective. The atmosphere is quite in the nature of a typical English detective serials such as “Frost“. Ultimately it’s just a boring movie. The first hour is a concatenation of the attacks on the former members of the IRA and an awful lot of people who are calling with their mobile phone. Meaney looks like an Irish Columbo who surly grumbles when he arrives at the crime scene and then he comes to the conclusion that there is a pattern : former members of the IRA are being killed and it looks like some kind of vendetta. I am not a seasoned detective, but I figured that out myself after 15 minutes. The murders happen in an inventive way and are related to the acts the victims have done in the past. Only the poisoning of one of them, after he went for “Fish and Chips” in a local eatery, I found rather implausible. How they did that still remains a mystery to me.
It’s just waiting for the denouement and discover who’s the culprit and what’s his motive. Until then you witness the clumsy investigative work by the police who, as always, are running behind the facts and have no clear indications that could solve this case. Moreover I hope that the real Irish police is more capable than those performing in this film. I don’t think bugging devices are clogged in such a moronic and instantaneous way. And why didn’t they search the adjacent barn after their thorough search (although it also looked like a joke) through the house ?
Ultimately the underlying message is a bit more complicated than it appears at first sight. The ex-members of the I.R.A. want to let the past be bygones (especially now that they have moved up to a more prestigious position. Even as First Minister) and the law enforcement apparently have no problem with the liquidation of some retired IRA members. Whether all this is accurate and consistent with the current situation, is something unknown to me since my knowledge of the political situation is fairly limited. However, I fear that people will have a wrong idea about Ireland after watching “A Belfast Story“. It seems like everyone still has a few automatic rifles in the closet or between the cushions of the seat, so they can go to battle again at the right time. It wouldn’t surprise me that inhabitants of Ireland and England, think this is a pretty shocking and uncompromising movie.
After a while I got the feeling that I was watching a third-rate television series, though it began strong and promising but eventually degenerated into a terribly annoying controversial product in which Meaney excelled in, despite his boring monologues he had while sitting alone in a room with the most hideous wallpaper patterns ever. The consternation about the package I’ve mentioned at the beginning, was indeed necessary to obtain some attention.