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Volume 90, Issue 98
Wednesday, April 02, 1997
Devilish film lacks all necessary evils
Gazette file photo
I MAY BE SHORTER THAN YOU, BUT YOU'LL NEVER HAVE A STICK AS LONG AS I DO! Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford test the luck of the Irish in a game of pool.
The Devil's Own
Starring Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
At Wellington 8, 7:10 and 9:40 p.m.
"It's not an American story, it's an Irish one," says Brad Pitt's character in The Devil's Own. Sorry Brad it's neither, but it's certainly a bad one. If this movie proves anything, it's that filming a movie before the screenplay has been completed is a recipe for disaster.
With a star-studded cast of Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt, one would expect much more from this lacklustre film. Yet, there is only so much even Ford and Pitt can work with. In fact, without their acting talents this movie would have been even worse.
The movie begins with a masked man bursting through the door and shooting a man dead in front of his family. It is never revealed whether the masked assailant was a Protestant militant or British. Regardless of that fact, the eight-year-old son (Pitt) of the murdered father grows up and is thrown head first into an age-old conflict that has lasted since the 12th century.
Pitt's character, an IRA gunman, flees to America under an assumed alias after a shootout with government troops. When he arrives in New York City, he is allowed to stay in the basement of an Irish-American police sergeant's house. Tom O'Meara (Ford) has agreed to this arrangement as a debt he owes to a judge (George Hearn). Little does the sergeant know that the judge is an Irish loyalist and has helped smuggle Pitt into the country in order to purchase Stinger missiles from a business contact in the city. The audience is then expected to believe that the police sergeant does no investigative work into the stranger's background and has no fears in letting a complete stranger live in his house with his wife and three daughters.
When O'Meara learns the true identity of his house guest, he must then choose between his responsibility to duty as an enforcement officer and his native Irish patriotism.
While it would have been simple enough to leave Pitt's character as one bent on revenge, the writers insisted on making him a terrorist likable. The plot takes a devious turn when Pitt is forced to purchase the Stinger missiles, not because he wants to, but because an evil businessman (Treat Williams) blackmails him by holding his best friend captive. The attempt to make Pitt's character a victim rather than a villain only serves to further weaken the storyline. One must wonder whether if it is Pitt's star profile that made it necessary to make the audience more sympathetic to his character.
The most disappointing part of the movie is its conclusion. It is hardly exciting and the audience is not left with a greater understanding of the serious issues at stake to any greater degree than before. Where other movies such as In the Name of the Father and Michael Collins excel and do a proficient job addressing the conflict and turmoil in Ireland, this movie fails in its attempt.
The Devil's Own is both predictable and emotionally shallow. In short, don't expect to laugh or cry, but expect to be left wondering why Pitt and Ford wasted their talents on such a scanty production.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997