The Devil's Own (15)

Directed by Alan J Pakula
Starring Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford

Very dodgy politics in this ho-hum thriller. Mega stars Pitt and Ford team up in a story about a nice misunderstood IRA terrorist who arrives in good old US of A to buy weapons for the cause. Boarded with unsuspecting honest cop Ford and his family by a sympathetic judge, Pitt gets all pally with Ford. Eventually Ford realizes but even then he still cares for the young man and naturally the pair feature in the climactic scene.
This film had a name before it opened after Brad Pitt expressed real doubts over his characters portrayal and branded the film irresponsible. Here in the UK, the Noraid sympathizers are seen as dumb pseudo-Irish Yanks searching for a culture. You don't see the effects of the terrorist bombings, after all, look what a fuss you made over one bombing in Oklahoma. The Irish situation is one that has no easy answer and a film like this certainly doesn't help. Having an attractive star like Brad Pitt play a very sympathetic character who is seen as a victim of circumstance who had no choice in his fate, sends a certain sort of message. OK, Pitt IS seen killing a load of anonymous solidiers at the start, but only one killing late in the film of a featured character is really seen as terrorist like, the others shown as just routine. Most annoying to us in the UK is that the only British character is a stereotyped upper class meanie who sneers a lot and is very condescending, especially in a cringeworthy confrontation with Ford's character. No MI5 officer would talk like that- more propaganda by Pakula and co.
However, the biggest problem with the film is that it is simply dull. Not enough happens. Do we really need all those nice Oirish party scenes and Pitt being nice to Ford's little daughter? Another problem for me was yet another film with appallingly written roles for women. Ford's wife cooks and looks after the kids. When he talks about quitting the police force she backs him up and drags him off to bed, then after being used as a human shield by burglars is packed off to her sisters with the kids never to be seen again while hubby Ford and lodger Pitt get down to business. Ditto Pitt's girlfriend who supports him all the way, even after he has murdered and covers for him. Her job- why nannying, what else but looking after men or children?
The relationship between Ford and Pitt is not half as fascinating as the director would like us to think. Sure both are good. Pitt's accent is surprisingly good. Now we know what he and Gwyneth Paltrow did for fun-practice accents! No wonder they split up. Harrison Ford has been the good guy in films for a while. He has integrity and an ordinaryness about him, although I think he is beginning to look a bit old now. There is clearly an attempt to make Pitt see him as some sort of surrogate father, but it didn't quite work for me.
A misguided film that shows Hollywood should mind its own business. Whe are we going to see a film about the atrocities committed by the Yankees against the native Americans? And don't mention Dances with Wolves, I mean a film that shows the white men as the baddies? This film is not thrilling enough, has dubious motives and terrible women's roles. However, if you want to see a pro-IRA, anti-British Goverment film, go by all means.


June 1997

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