A BELFAST STORY | DVD REVIEW

Kernel John hit up a double feature of Eagle Entertainment movies. This one, A BELFAST STORY, and his review of TOKAREV. I am starting to like the content from Eagle Entertainment – unashamedly B grade and generally films you have never heard of. But most of them star people you have heard of. My favourite film of theirs so far is hands down AFTER THE DARK (review not published at time of posting) and I feel that out of their (about 6) titles a month one of them is pretty awesome. Sadly, for Kernel John, this wasn’t that one. If you are a fan of Colm Meaney, or of Irish films, I am thinking you may enjoy this. A BELFAST STORY is out on DVD and BLU RAY on the 27th August with thanks to Eagle Entertainment. It is rated MA15+, runs for 95mins and is available from all DVD vendors, if you want to buy it – you can get it from HERE. Enjoy Kernel John’s review…….all the best……JK.

 

A BELFAST STORY DVD COVER IMAGE
A BELFAST STORY | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | DVD COVER

 

REVIEW BY JOHN MCPARLAND

Belfast is the largest city and capital of Northern Ireland.  The site upon which it stands has been continuously occupied since the Bronze Age.  There is a 5,000 year old henge known as the Giant’s Ring located a stone’s throw away from the city centre.  In modern times, Belfast is probably most globally famous for its construction of the then largest ship in the world: the RMS Titanic.  More recently still, the city is known for the suffering it endured during the last 40 or so years of the 20th century as Irish nationalists clashed with Ulster loyalists over the republic status of Ireland.  It is safe to say that the people of Belfast have borne witness to many an event throughout time.  There is history in this place, and certainly many an engrossing tale to tell.

Sadly though, A BELFAST STORY is not one of them.  Set in modern times after the nationalist/loyalist conflict had ended, the film follows Detective James, played by Colm Meaney (STAR TREK television series), as he investigates a string of brazen murders in the heart of Belfast.  As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the perpetrators are targeting ex IRA members.  Suspicion initially falls on ex loyalists, but James deduces early on that their organisation did not have the resources to orchestrate such widespread killings even when they were at the height of their power.  The film continues on, picking off pensioner pipe bombers and retired radicals like there is a fire sale on death.  The police are trying as best they can to keep the situation under wraps, for fear that public awareness may reignite the decade’s long civil feud.

 

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A BELFAST STORY | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | DETECTIVE (COLM MEANEY) INSPECTS A MURDER SCENE

 

The film itself is ponderously slow.  So little happens in so very long a time that the movie needed to either be half the duration, or feature ten times as much content.  Even certain irrelevant scenes would take forever to play out.  For example, at one point Useless Character A tries to call Useless Character B on B’s Nokia 3310 (seriously; even the technology of this film lags behind) which B buried in a pot plant for some reason.  Useless Character B is out of the office though, so his secretary, Useless Character C, hears the phone ring and goes to find it.  She moves with the determined purpose of an anesthetised snail in her attempts to locate it.  What self respecting secretary does not rush to answer a ringing phone?  That is her job after all.  Predictably, the phone rings out.  Thankfully, the God’s of Plot Progression lead C to the mobile’s location halfway through A’s second call attempt.  However, when A realises that it is not B on the other end of the line, he hangs up.  C stares confusedly at the mobile before going back to her desk and continuing her work.  That is it.  The whole scene takes around five minutes, involves pointless characters AND NOTHING HAPPENS.  Five minutes of listening to an old school Nokia ringtone while the stupidest secretary in existence repeatedly shuffles the same stack of papers on her desk to try and locate a phone that is in a pot literally less than a meter from where she is sitting.  That scene, by the way, is one of the more action packed of the film, much to my dismay.

As mentioned above, the film also contains a plethora of useless characters.  There are so many different individuals introduced throughout the movie that do nothing to progress it.  Worse still, some of the storylines were confusing and ran counter to the plot’s development.  It was almost as if the film was meant to be twice as long (heaven forbid) but was cut down at a later date, removing crucial elements that would have helped to tie the whole thing together.  Other than Meaney, no other character was properly developed, let alone really needed to tell this tale.  Even the perpetrator himself was a poorly put together construct.

 

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A BELFAST STORY | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MASKED BAD DUDE

 

Speaking of the vigilante, his reasons for widespread murder are pointless, stupidly justified, and totally illogical.  It seems that a few ex IRA thugs have achieved high community standing and thus, his citywide rampage is born of the notion that he would rather live in a world of violence, than have his son grow up in a place where he could not tell good from evil.  Because the former is a much safer environment for his child, apparently.  Let us forget for the moment that the father is punishing the criminal individual for the societal elevation of that character to a position of power, and focus instead on the many failings of this hypocritical killer as a parent.  After all, it is the masses, the people themselves, who gave these former terrorists such prominent status; the evil doers simply rode the opportunistic wave of support.  It is not their fault that they have achieved what they have; punish instead the general populous that let it happen.  But of course, gunning down the local delicatessen for allowing evil to persist is slightly harder to justify morally than just blowing up the bad guy in accordance with some lofty opinion of right and wrong.  Chief among the vigilante’s parenting faults is the fact that he believes that only by putting evil into a body bag can his son grow up knowing the difference between evil (notably the dead people) and good (presumably, those daddy has decided not to execute on a whim).  A parent more grounded in reality would probably just explain the concept of right and wrong to his son, possibly using sock puppets or some equally non-lethal medium, and let the child form his own, hopefully non-murderous, opinion of society and how to interact with it.  Failing that, if you do not like your fellow citizen you could always just move.  Not every bad neighbour deserves a bullet to the head.  I also find it highly dubious that this one man could accomplish what, as mentioned earlier, the entire loyalist regime at the height of their power could not have done, but that is the least of this film’s issues.

 

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A BELFAST STORY | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | DETECTIVE (COLM MEANEY) INSPECTS A VERY SICK DUDE

 

A few of the murders were interesting to watch though.  The vigilante seemed to have a penchant for irony and many of his victims are killed in THE PRETENDEResq style retribution (though Jarod never actually killed anyone).  For instance, a pipe bomber is killed with a pipe bomb, a man who blew up a fish and chip shop is killed with poisoned chips, and a man who use to bomb police stations is gunned down at the entrance to his local station, unable to get through the barricades his past antics forced the cops to erect.

In the end, debut director Nathan Todd shows his inexperience with this poorly scripted, put together and acted film.  Meaney seems bland and uninterested.  The rest of the cast is terrible and pointless.  The story itself is agonisingly slow and ludicrous.  Other than a decent Irish sounding score, a few poignant shots of suburban destruction to remind the viewer of Belfast’s brutal past, and some ironic killings, this film has very little to offer in the way of fulfilling entertainment.

 

2 Pops