Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

A Belfast Story: latest movie take on Troubles may drive you up wall

New Troubles-inspired thriller A Belfast Story has attracted controversy following the perhaps ill-advised decision to send out Press packs containing balaclavas, nails and duct tape.

Whether any publicity is good publicity remains to be seen when the movie opens in cinemas on Friday.

But at last night's Press screening attended by cast and crew – though not, as rumoured, by the US Special Envoy Richard Haass – the reaction seemed to be mixed.

Certainly, the decision by first-time filmmaker and former Queen's University engineering student Nathan Todd to address the prickly subject of former terrorists walking the streets as free men is a brave one.

But it's debatable whether he's come up with a strong enough story or script.

Todd's film clearly has grand ideas and when Colm Meaney appears, crumpled Mac and even more crumpled brow in place, there's no doubt A Belfast Story is a serious business.

Meaney plays a world-weary, soon-to-retire 'Northern Ireland Police Force' detective, who has spent 30 years chasing down "every eejit with a bomb".

He's called in to crack a spate of murders of ex-IRA men, who are being picked off in increasingly inventive ways.

While Meaney gives a typically committed performance, the problem is he's sidelined by too many secondary characters.

There's the high-handed First Minister with a shady past.

There's his idealistic and naive personal assistant.

And then there's the wet-behind-the-ears cop, the guilt-ridden special adviser, Tim McGarry's (pictured) panicked former Provo, a killer with an unusual motive...

"It's very easy to set a bomb," snarls Meaney's character.

"It takes a hard man to clean up afterwards."

And it takes a hard man to put this kind of stuff on screen.

ANDREW JOHNSTON

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