OF THE REALM (director: David
Drury; screenwriter: Martin Stellman; cinematographer:
Roger Deakins; editor: Michael Bradsell; music: Richard
Harvey; cast: Gabriel Byrne
Denholm Elliott (Vernon Bayliss ),
Ian Bannen ( Dennis Markham), Greta Scacchi (Nina Beckman),
Fulton MacKay (Victor Kingsbrook), Bill Paterson (Jack MacLeod), Frederick Treves (Reece),
(Trudy Markham); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: PG;
producers: Robin Douet/Lynda Myles; Nelson
"Mostly pleasing old-fashioned political thriller."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
documentary filmmaker David Drury ("Forever
Young"/"Split Decisions") directs this fast-paced
mostly pleasing old-fashioned political thriller, that
builds in tension as an aggressive obsessed
investigative journalist tracks down a conspiracy
story over nuclear weapons and a cover-up by the
British and American governments. BBC-TV's Martin Stellman
hands in an efficient but at times muddled screenplay.
Spirited young apolitical investigative journalist Nick Mullen (Gabriel Byrne) gets burned by helping write a piece with poisonous info from an anonymous tipster that forces respected MP Dennis Markham (Ian Bannen) to resign over a sex scandal, as he was photographed leaving the home of a woman seen in the company of Major Kleist--supposedly a KGB agent from East Germany. This incident happens after a near crash of a nuclear bomber on a top-secret and highly secure American Air Force base in the countryside of Eastern England, and with the influential MP Markham set to investigate the incident of two boys running away after getting onto the base by breaching security and one is arrested and the other dies in a hit-and-run incident. Nick's middle-aged veteran colleague on the newspaper Vernon Bayliss (Denholm Elliott) doesn't believe his old pal Markham could be a traitor, in fact he believes he was framed. While Vernon's collecting evidence to show his old pal from their idealistic days in the Communist party is no traitor, his apartment is ransacked and he dies under mysterious circumstances.
Nick realizes there's
something going on here more than meets the eye, and
elicits the help of Markham's pretty loyal secretary Nina Beckman
By uncovering clippings and
photos from the newspaper's morgue and following up
leads with leg work, the journalist discovers the
truth. But his story is spiked by his newspaper bosses
and when he fails to heed the advice of government
agents to be a patriot and for security reasons forget
what he knows, he finds that both the lives of Nina
and himself are in danger.
Drury, in a rather cynical
way, paints both the Brit and American governments
with a black eye by suggesting they are capable of
harming their own citizens over nuclear activity in
Britain. The moral dilemma political pic reaches out
to both the government and the media, as it asks what
are their responsibilities to come clean with the
public. It's a good question to ask, as it seems to
always be coming up for every generation and seemingly
is always answered in a different way.
Good performances by stars Byrne and Elliott, a satisfactory
thinking man's plot line, superb location shots and
incisive direction keep this muckraking political
thriller stylish, atmospheric and engrossing.
REVIEWED ON 10/5/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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