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Veronica Guerin
2003 - R - 98 Mins.
Director: Joel Schumacher
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Written By: Carol Doyle, Mary Agnes Donoghue
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Ciaran Hinds, Brenda Fricker, Darragh Kelly, Gerard McSorley
Review by: David Trier
   
Only Bruckheimer and Schumacher together could make a brave journalist look like a deranged idiot.

In the mid nineties, Irish journalist Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett) started writing stories about Ireland’s known drug barons who were getting away with pushing heroin on kids but weren’t being forced to declare the source of their income to the government. With the help of an equal opportunity criminal snitch (Ciaran Hinds) and a detective friend (Don Wycherley), she was able to expose Ireland’s worse predators and get herself killed as a result.

This is a bland and average film from a director who can’t seem to inject any soul into what could be a very moving story. The film fails miserably in its attempt to get us to truly understand and appreciate what Guerin accomplished because it’s difficult to understand who Guerin is

While well-played by the wonderful Cate Blanchett, Guerin still comes off as an annoying and grossly irresponsible nuisance who’s willing to put her whole family at risk for success. Inattentive to the people who love her, she has no problem confronting evil drug lords face to face – at their homes. Then we’re supposed to be shocked and dismayed when they beat, shoot and threaten her. And she does this unarmed and alone most of the time. The film’s tagline is “Why would anyone want to kill Veronica Guerin?” Well, that is just silly.

Guerin’s death is no shock to the audience as it’s the first thing they show us in the film – a rather ineffective bookend. Schumacher also seems overly concerned with trite bits of text that tell the story of Veronica Guerin both in the beginning and at the end of the film. Don’t tell me Veronica Guerin was a journalist who did this, that and the other – just show me!

Anyway, supporting actors do well, particularly the talented Ciaran Hinds (The Sum of All Fears). Gerard McSorley delivers a fiery and intimidating performance as an evil drug baron. Don Wycherley is a likable detective. Colin Farrell has a cute, if not tacky, cameo role that is more of a distraction than a valuable element.

Like most films set in Ireland, this one has some nice shots of the land and the streets. And it also captures that region’s brand of poverty in some early scenes. Toddlers playing with used hypodermic needles is only slightly more disturbing than teenagers actually using them. But Guerin’s transformation from not really caring much at all to suddenly wanting to risk her life for this story seems staged and unreasonable.

True stories are sensitive. Not everything that happens in a true story is entertaining and yet fantastic things happen in reality that must be told. Because of this, bio-filmmakers have a special responsibility to their characters. And as this film does not clearly define Guerin as either a brave journalist or a naïve opportunist, it is totally uninspiring. Would she be considered a hero if her death wasn’t followed by changes in Irish law? Was she really morally outraged or is sending a letter to a drug lord asking if he had you shot just not thinking ahead?
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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