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  • Colin Fraser


THREE STARS A gunman in Northern Ireland is working to retire, but fate, and the IRA, won't let him.


Starring Liam Neeson, Ciarian Hinds

It’s the mid-70s and in a quiet corner of Northern Ireland, Finbar (Liam Neeson) is working toward retirement as a gun for hire. Not that that villagers he lives with know this. To them, including local copper and best friend Ciarian Hinds, he’s an unassuming guy living a quiet life. That’s until a small cell from the IRA choose to hide out in his village after a bombing goes wrong - children were killed. Although Finbar is trying to earn redemption after a lifetime of crime, fate has other plans.

So yes, this is yet another ‘Liam Neeson plays a killer trying not to kill but doing a very poor job of it’ film. The kind in which he works hard to be a good guy yet bad guys won’t let him and so he grunts and growls his way through a rising body count. While dressed as a ‘film about the troubles’, particularly in a more rewarding first half, IN THE LAND OF SAINTS AND SINNERS ultimately sticks, for better or worse, to the Neeson formula.

Thus Finbar tries to manage the threat from the cell’s hard-headed leader (Kerry Condon) and he’s aided in his work by psychotic Kevin (GAME OF THRONE’S Jack Joffrey Gleeson, another actor not straying far from expectation). Kevin’s a gleeful new assassin on the block who trades tips with a reluctant mentor. While he’s talking kills, Finbar is talking America in the hope of turning the lad toward a new start on the straight and narrow. You see, he may be a murderer but his heart is in the right place.

You can only take this kind of yarn so far before it becomes ridiculous and when that starts to happen, you shoot up the set. Director Robert Lorenz (THE MARKSMAN) meets expectation, forcing logic into the back seat for the rest of the film while distracting action takes the front seat. Nonsense yes, but then this is a ‘Liam Neeson plays a killer trying not to kill but doing a very poor job of it’ film. You wouldn’t expect much more, would you?



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