With further fleshing out this dramatic action-thriller about The Troubles in Northern Ireland really could've been something.
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As someone who’s got more than his fair share of Irish heritage, films about The Troubles in Northern Ireland have always fascinated me. Whether it’s Neil Jordan’s “The Crying Game” and “Michael Collins,” Jim Sheridan’s “In the Name of the Father” and “The Boxer,” Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” or Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” these stories have always had a hold over me.
English writer/director brothers Charles and Thomas Guard (they previously helmed “The Uninvited,” a 2009 remake of the South Korean horror flick “A Tale of Two Sisters”) take up the torch from Jordan, Sheridan, Loach and Branagh with their dramatic action-thriller “Dead Shot” (available in select theaters and on VOD beginning Friday, Aug. 18).
The movie opens with a Special Air Service captain named Tempest (Aml Ameen) accidentally shooting and killing Carol (Máiréad Tyers), the pregnant wife of Irish Republican Army member Michael O’Hara (Colin Morgan).
Tempest is presented with two choices by his handler Holland (Mark Strong) – he can either go to jail for Carol’s murder or continue hunting Michael on behalf of the English. Obviously, Tempest opts for the latter and returns to London and the loving arms of his clothier/songstress girlfriend Ruth (Sophia Brown).
Meanwhile, Michael’s also hunting Tempest and is hungry for revenge. Aiding Michael in his quest for vengeance are IRA higher-up Keenan (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and Keenan’s daughter Catherine (Felicity Jones, who’s married to Charles Guard and served as an executive producer on the picture).
I often complain that movies are overlong, but “Dead Shot” is one of the rare circumstances where I think it would’ve benefited from being lengthier. (The film clocks in at a scant 92 minutes.) “Dead Shot” is less about The Troubles and more about these men’s personal vendettas against one another.
Ameen and Morgan are both serviceable in their roles, but I wish we could’ve gotten to know their characters better. Tempest would’ve been more sympathetic had we seen more of his grief over having killed Carol and her unborn child. Michael would be more interesting if Morgan had notes to play besides anger. Strong and Jones lend the project credibility and are reliably good, but neither of them are in the film a whole lot.
I really responded to Max de Wardener’s synth-y 1980s-esque score even if it feels somewhat anachronistic for a film that takes place in the 1970s.
The picture concludes in a manner that calls to mind crime pictures I greatly prefer to this one – among them “Carlito’s Way,” “Heat” and “Layer Cake.” With some further fleshing out perhaps “Dead Shot” could’ve hit these heights.