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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS
Martin is a young man who makes his living selling stolen items. He is recruited by both the IRA to fight the British and by the British to spy on the IRA. He initially gets involved at a low level in order to get things like a good job, an income, a car, and a girl. The movie has some personal aspects as well. Some lines include, "Your Irish. You are born with an...
Published 18 months ago by The Movie Guy

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "The price of a conscience is death. None of us can afford it."
Despite being the closest thing Britain's had to its own Vietnam, the Troubles in Northern Ireland have produced only a handful of mediocre, often absurdly partisan movies, and Fifty Dead Men Walking doesn't do anything to remedy the situation by turning an informer's anti-IRA memoir into something rather more guardedly supportive of them. It's easy to understand why the...
Published on 24 April 2012 by Trevor Willsmer


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "The price of a conscience is death. None of us can afford it.", 24 April 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Despite being the closest thing Britain's had to its own Vietnam, the Troubles in Northern Ireland have produced only a handful of mediocre, often absurdly partisan movies, and Fifty Dead Men Walking doesn't do anything to remedy the situation by turning an informer's anti-IRA memoir into something rather more guardedly supportive of them. It's easy to understand why the real Martin McGartland so vigorously disowned the film and its departures from fact that saw IRA members taking a more active role in advising the production than he did and, much to his anger, placed him at the scene of murders and tortures he never participated in to amp up the onscreen drama. While it doesn't shirk from their violence and their kneecapping those guilty of `antisocial activities' or the torture and murder of a wrongly suspected informer who is later unjustly condemned by his own father at his funeral, the frequently laughably simplified politics do often read like a Sinn Fein Party Political Broadcast.

It doesn't help that much of the opening of the film offers a very superficial account of the causes of the violence, delivered with almost embarrassed disinterest by Ben Kingsley, setting out his character's stall as the film's Irving the Explainer as our anti-hero's British handler. In the face of such odds, all Kingsley can offer is an accent and an unconvincing wig by way of character in another one of those stiff and mechanical "I-am-acting" performances that he's lapsed into alarmingly often post-knighthood, though Jim Sturgess is much more effectively naturalistic in the lead and could have been even better with something more substantial to work with. Where Kingsley always feels like he's awkwardly acting a role in the movie, Sturgess gives it some much-needed raw energy and bravado, making his role seem far more real than the clichéd writing or the derivative orange-and-teal lensing deserves.

As a film it's fatally hobbled for much of the first half by the need to constantly explain who everyone is and what they represent (virtually every character is introduced by onscreen captions) rather than just getting on with the story. Once it settles down it does pick up, but it never really develops much sense of danger or unease, the generally naturalistic playing not managing to hide the stock depiction and predictable outcome of the undercover scenes. Curiously it's the domestic scenes between Sturgis and an excellent Nathalie Press as his girlfriend that are the most convincing part of the film and the ones where you get the sense that you're watching real people. But for the most part it just ticks along professionally enough with few highs and few lows. Chief among the liabilities is Rose McGowan, whose press conference comments about wanting to join the IRA earned the film much unwanted publicity and whose pure Hollywood glamorous IRA big shot is the film's least convincing performance, albeit a thankfully brief one.

In its best moments, such as a scene crosscutting both the IRA and McGartland's British handler briefing him on he kind of torture he can expect if the other side captures him, you do get a sense of a better, more ironic film bursting to get out, but it seems too compromised by the need not to alienate the perceived prejudices of the Irish-American market (the film is a Canadian co-production) while keeping things simplistic enough for those unaware of the details of the Troubles to work as a Donnie Brasco-style thriller. As such it's even more of a pretender than its anti-hero and too compromised to work effectively as politically charged character study or white knuckle thriller - there's nothing here to set your pulse racing or your palms sweating, let alone exercise your heart or mind.

Extras on the DVD include audio commentary by Karl Skogland, 13 deleted scenes, on set featurette, extract from the book and the theatrical trailer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS, 21 Jun 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Martin is a young man who makes his living selling stolen items. He is recruited by both the IRA to fight the British and by the British to spy on the IRA. He initially gets involved at a low level in order to get things like a good job, an income, a car, and a girl. The movie has some personal aspects as well. Some lines include, "Your Irish. You are born with an opinion." Or when his mom finds out Martin's gf is pregnant, "You'll do the right thing, or I'll kill you myself."

Martin's gf, the mother of his son, and expecting again, has different priorities. Apparently living and raising a family is more important than keeping Ireland from being British. As Martin watches people die and get tortured around him, he re-examines his situation and realizes he is in too deep and wants out.

Martin's wife/gf and mother are the only real likable characters in the story. Everyone else is caught up in causes and killing. The basic theme of "the end justify the means" is tested throughout as Martin questions the deeds of both sides.

Interesting, but Irish is not English. I used the subtitles.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - makes Bourne look weak in comparison, 16 Aug 2009
By 
William Burroughs (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] (DVD)
Really good film, was recommended by a mate that liked Bourne, but he reckoned this was ten times as real and he was right. From the opening assassination attempt that leaves your heart in your mouth it doesn't let up - but really gets you emotionally involved too - its got depth and really complex dilemmas, especially when it focuses on his family stuff and how he's pulled by each side. its an amazing story - i loved it - one of the best real life action thrillers i've ever seen
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You are not a man unless you have a cause., 20 Aug 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Based on the life of Martin McGartland, who was recruited by the British Police to spy from within the Irish Republican Army, Fifty Dead Men Walking is the latest cinematic attempt to bring awareness to the horrors of the British/Irish troubles. At the end of the film there is a disclaimer about the accuracy of the film in relation to McGartland's actual book of the same name. While it should be noted that McGartland himself has renounced the film in British film magazines as not being his story. What we do know is that Martin McGartland is a real person who really did spy for the British Police inside the IRA. It's also fact that he saved close to 50 men from being killed as part of the long running conflict, and he is in fact still in hiding to this very day.

So with that in mind it's a film to be viewed both with suspicion and intrigue. There is no denying that the harshness of the plot and some of its scenes {ouch, torture} impacts like a sledgehammer, but crucially it's hard to get on side with the unlikable McGartland {brilliantly played by rising Brit star Jim Sturgess}. In spite of his achievements in thankfully stopping many murders down the line, his motives are mixed and not necessarily prioritised. Having not read the book myself I have no idea if the portrayal of himself is what McGartland objects too? Or it may well be that he is shown as being in places he clearly wasn't? Still, character affinity is probably not what the makers were after anyway, they view the conflict from primarily one side, and in the main they achieve that without looking biased or guilty of sensationalism. Certainly the play off between Martin, his best mate and IRA baddie, Sean, is very engrossing as things start to get hairy. While the relationship between Martin and Ben Kingsley's copper, Fergus, is one of the film's strengths.

Not so good is the shoe-horned in part of Grace {a miscast Rose McGowan} and the ending feels rushed in relation to the pace that preceded it. A potent soundtrack featuring the likes of The Ruts and Stiff Little Fingers mingles perfectly with the grainy portrait of Northern Ireland that director Kari Skogland has opted for. Whilst the script is sharp and never drifts off to filler speak and pointless musings on the moral quandaries that are thrown up. As a history lesson on the Irish troubles it's barely worth any interest, as a character study about people within the troubles? Well it's definitely of interest there. 6.5/10
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The book is much better..., 3 May 2009
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] (DVD)
"Fifty Dead Men Walking" is a fairly average and easily forgettable film about the IRA informer Martin McGartland. McGartland worked his way up in the IRA and the information that he fed to the British helped to save many lives and prevent a lot of IRA operations from taking place. This film gives a bit of the flavour of the dangerous and unsavoury environment in which McGartland worked, but it is disjointed and we never really get to know the characters properly.As a result of his actions McGartland still lives on the run never seeing his family .I wonder what he would think of the new Northern Ireland , where his former buddies in the IRA are now part of the government ,having put their days of bombing,shooting and "nutting" informers like McGartland behind them.Probably fail to see the irony I would imagine.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A waste of potential, 21 Oct 2009
By 
Pablo (Co. Down/ Navarra) - See all my reviews
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The book which "inspired" this farcical adaptation could no doubt have provided many great film-transferrible facets: real-life spy drama, insights into the workings of British intelligence on the one hand and the IRA on the other, a study of McGartland's motivation and a human drama of the informer's life. As it is, this film achieves none of these, sacrificing such magnificent potential for superficial, disjointed "action" scenes and an incoherent plot in which we have an agent-handler as hero! Poor script, poor direction and unsurprising that the authors of the book wanted nothing to do with it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor adaptation of terrific book, 9 Oct 2009
By 
S. Daruwala "rockvocals" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] (DVD)
After reading Martin McGartland's autobiographical eye-opener I couldn't wait to see this film. As well as providing fast-paced thrills and intrigue, the book taught me much about the political situation in Northern Ireland as seen through the eyes of a young man growing up and trying to do his best by those he cares about during 'The Troubles'. Unfortunately the stories and characters we meet in the book get terribly lost in translation. The film's omission of Marty's first love - a young protestant girl with whom he has a child before sectarian politics puts an end to their forbidden affair - is, in my opinion, inexcusable. That one early chapter of Marty's life helps explain so much about his actions in later life, and the film is critically weakened by a general lack of contextualisation and character development. Avoid this poorly-executed film and treat yourself to the book instead - you won't regret it!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unbelievable...and not in a good way, 11 Jan 2010
This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] (DVD)
Movies adapted from real life stories should always be treated with a pinch of salt (remember Fargo's based on a true story farrago), so it was with a sense of judgment reserved that I watched 50 Dead Men Walking.
Based on the memoirs of IRA informer Martin McGartland, this is at first a fairly straight forward politically charged action movie. When we first meet Martin (played by Jim Sturges, in a good but not outstanding performance) he is a young chancer in 1980's Belfast, getting by selling stolen goods to anyone and everyone. A chance run in with the British army and then the local IRA head brings Martin to the attention of both the British Secret Service and the IRA command structure, both recognising in Martin someone who could be useful to them. Getting the foot in the door with the IRA brings Martin to the attention of a British Secret Service officer known as Fergus (a nicely done down to earth turn from Ben Kingsley, and without a doubt the best thing in the film), who pricks Martins conscience and manages to turn him into an informer against his fellow IRA men. From then on the film details Martin's journey up through the ranks of the IRA, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of his cohorts in the IRA, and protect his young wife and baby from the worst aspects of both sides of his unsavoury job.
This should have been a gripping and involving insight into what life was like for an IRA informer, but instead what we get is a confused and often confusing movie, appearing to be sympathetic to both sides and neither side in quick succession, and the disjointed nature of the film means we never really get to know the central character, and as a result our lack of identification with him makes his plight very difficult to both sympathise and empathise with. Director Kari Skogland makes a valiant effort at turning the mess of a script into a believable and watchable movie, and whilst it is not terrible by any means, it is too much of a mish-mash of styles and ideas to be a complete success. If you want to watch a more intelligent examination of "the troubles" watch Hunger or Bloody Sunday, but don't expect to find a true life slice of reality here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 July 2014
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This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
excellent
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3.0 out of 5 stars Paige Matthews from Charmed as an Irish hit woman? Sir Ben Kingsley with hair? Gorgeous Kevin Zegers doing an..., 10 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
... Irish accent? And yummy Jim Sturgess as a double agent? Truly harrowing entertainment. All the more so for being based upon real life events. Entertainment might be the wrong word yo use here for this film can be harsh and tough going but then it's not a rom com. For those possessing a strong stomach it's a nicely played and directed actioner. At nearly 2 hours long (112 minutes) it can drag in places but it's worth watching for the savage violence and two gorgeous lead men (not Sir Ben). However beware as there is at least one sadistic torture sequence (tho not in the Hostel/Saw league).
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Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] [2008]
Fifty Dead Men Walking [DVD] [2008] by Sir Ben Kingsley (DVD - 2010)
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