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Fifty Dead Men Walking


Stars: Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley, Nathalie Press, Kevin Zegers, Rose McGowan, Tom Collins

Director: Kari Skogland

At times exciting, but rather repetitive in its structure, this is an even-handed account of the exploits of Martin McGartland (Strugess), who allegedly saved the lives of more than 50 men by joining the IRA and leaking details of their activities to his British spy boss Fergus (Kingsley).

It's not until near the end of the story that we find out exactly who's in bed with whom; meanwhile, Martin has made a bed of his own with Lara (Press, here billed as Natalie without her 'h'), with whom he has a son.

Martin is a black marketeer selling stolen goods when Fergus recruits him, telling him that 'information is as powerful as bullets'. Their contacts are in abandoned buildings or at an underground hideout where Fergus plays billiards - meetings reminiscent of Michael Caine's Harry Palmer films - and the partnership works well before McGartland is betrayed by powers above Kingsley. With his associates already beginning to smell a rat, Martin finds himself first tortured, then a man on the run.

Individual scenes carry a good charge of excitement, although director Skogland is economical with the action, and the editing tends to disrupt the film's flow. Kingsley's wig makes him look like American actor Jack Klugman, and the film is dominated by Sturgess, whose Irish accent sounds impeccable to the untutored ear.

David Quinlan

UK/Canada 2008. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 Apr 2009