Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: "When the Sky Falls" Means Well (Happy B'ay, Kevin McNally)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 73 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

When the Sky Falls (2000)
Running time:  107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – R for brutal violence, strong language, drug content and some sexuality
DIRECTOR:  John Mackenzie
WRITERS:  Ronan Gallagher, Colum McCann, and Michael Sheridan; with additional dialogue by Guy Andrews
PRODUCERS:  Nigel Warren Green and Michael Wearing
EDITOR:  Graham Walker
COMPOSER:  Pol Brennan


Starring:  Joan Allen, Patrick Bergin, Liam Cunningham, Kevin McNally, Jimmy Smallhourne, Gerard Mannix Flynn, Jason Barry, Pete Postlethwaite, Des McAleer, Owen Roe, Gavin Kelty, and RuaidhrĂ­ Conroy

The subject of this movie review is When the Sky Falls, a 2000 crime drama directed by the late John Mackenzie.  The film is a fictional account of a real-life Irish investigative reporter’s battle with a Dublin drug lord.  This film stars one of my favorite actors, Joan Allen, and Kevin McNally, an actor of whom I became a fan after his roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  When the Sky Falls did not receive a theatrical release in the United States, although it is partly a U.S. production.

When the Sky Falls, a fact-based drama, focuses on Sinead Hamilton (Joan Allen), a reporter who invades the drug underworld of Dublin, IrelandMackey (Patrick Bergin), the police officer who helps her, is mostly ineffectual because bureaucracy and lack of resources tie his hands.  Her husband, Tom (Kevin McNally), doesn’t particularly care about her work, but he supports her.

Sinead consorts with Mickey O’Fagan (Jimmy Smallhourne), minor thug who just might lead her to the big fish, Dave Hackett (Gerard Flynn), a brutal drug boss.  Add the Irish Republican Army to the danger mix, and you have a lone woman as a crusading reporter headed for doom.

The film is based upon the story of real life Dublin reporter Veronica Guerin with Sinead Hamilton as the fictional version of her, and for all the drama of the last year of Ms. Guerin’s short life, When the Sky Falls is rather tepid.  Although the film is less than two hours long, it drifts from one genre to another.

At moments, it’s a fairly intense crime thriller about a woman going after greedy men who would see the whole of Dublin addicted to heroin so that they could be fabulously wealthy.  At other times, it’s a clunky and clumsy crime drama about cops willing to go to any extreme to nail a criminal; that is whenever Patrick Bergin’s Mackey takes over the story.  It’s also a lame, movie of the week melodrama about a crusading reporter whenever Sinead Hamilton visits the offices of the newspaper for which she writes.

Anyone of the three storylines could have made a good film at a running time of one hundred and six minutes.  As it is, the subplots and storylines crowd the movie, and the filmmakers don’t do any of them justice.  The cast is mostly good, but seem to run on simmer and slow burn, lest they really let loose and chew up the scenery.  Dog forbid this movie should be as passionate as its real life subject matter.  I like Joan Allen, but this is one of her weaker performances – decent, but the kind of low wattage thing we can get from a TV movie.  When the Sky Falls is a fairly good film, but if you don’t see it, you won’t be missing anything important.

5 of 10

Updated:  Sunday, April 27, 2014

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