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"Veronica Guerin"

Directed by Joel Schumacher.
Written by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue.
Starring Cate Blanchett and Gerard McSorley.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  11/20/03


I really never have loved movies where they show you the ending at the beginning of the film.  Unless, of course, the movie goes backwards for the entire film, like “Memento.”

Otherwise, it never works for me as a device because then I find myself just waiting to see why things went the way they did.  In the case of “Veronica Guerin”, we find out at the start that poor Veronica (Cate Blanchett) gets loaded with gunfire while she sits in her car at a stoplight in Ireland back in June of 1996.  Over the course of the next hour-and-a-half, we learn why Veronica, a former small-time reporter that decided to start reporting on crime in Dublin, gets herself killed after her repeated attempts to learn about the dirty dealings of drug trafficker John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley).

Blanchett is quite good in the role, and it was fairly interesting watching her talk to suspects or members of government to try and coerce them into giving up the goods.  I learned a fair amount about crime in Ireland, and who doesn’t love Colin Farrell in a cameo?  (He worked for director Joel Schumacher in his breakout role “Tigerland”, so Farrell probably just owed Schumacher a favor or something.)  I love impassioned Irish guys yelling, screaming, saying “shit” like “Shiite” or being all surly when they are drinking at a bar.

But, as I write this, I realize what a blase film “Veronica Guerin” really was; there was really nothing very extraordinary about it, save for the fact that it happened in real life.  The cinematography seemed pretty average to me.  Scenes with Veronica’s family feel blindly inserted, as if the director remembered that every so often, he should remind us that Veronica has a family that she is neglecting.  (On that note, one of the clumsiest scenes of the year comes after Veronica’s house has been threatened by gunfire; she goes back to work, the husband comes into her office and tries to get her to come to was like nothing had just happened, and then the family starts dancing 30 seconds later.  Almost as bad as the emotional transitions in “The 13th Warrior.”)  The bad guys seem like your typical thugs; McSorley is good, as is Ciaran Hinds as John Traynor, but nothing they do seems to be very interesting.  The cops predictably don’t want to help Veronica in her search; the government doesn’t seem to want to help, either.

And then, we get the finale, where we already know that Veronica is going to, Schumacher makes the finale a long, drawn-out affair where we get to see the killing from multiple vantage points and a number of camera angles, even though we know she’s a goner!

Strange.  The film has done quite well with critics but something must be fishy, since the film is making so little cash.  The people have spoken!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09