Cast & Crew info:
Produced by Jerry
Bruckheimer, Ned Dowd, James Flynn, Morgan O'Sullivan, Chad
Oman, Eli Richbourg, Pat Sandston, Mike Stenson and Paul Tucker;
Directed by Joel Schumacher; Screenplay by Carol
Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue; based on the story by
Rated R for violence, language and some drug content;
Running Time - 98 Minutes
Domestic Release Date:
October 17, 2003
by DAVID KEYES
the spirit of a hero conjures up more than just images of
stealth and perseverance, but also those of sacrifice and
tragedy. That's because most true heroes, particularly in
the movies, are martyrs; their attempts to spur change for
the better often come at the cost of their own happiness,
even when the price is high enough for them to clearly realize
the deadly risks involved. Yet somehow, someway, they shrug
off the danger and face the odds head-on, seemingly invulnerable
to the threats and almost surprised when their own lives
are put in potentially mortal danger. Is it foolishness
that guides them? Perhaps. But at the core all they want
to do is make a difference, a factor that buries every trace
of naivety until it's too late.
Guerin, an Irish journalist who, in the mid-1990s, took
on a high profile drug cartel selling narcotics to underage
civilians, was one such person. Driven by her status as
a high-profile reporter, she dangled herself in the crosshairs
of vengeful criminals for two whole years before she was
ultimately murdered by the very group she sought to destroy.
This, of course, reinstates the notion that even the bravest
of activists are never as safe as they believe, and in Joel
Schumacher's new biopic inspired by her life and actions,
the rugged exteriors of a determined woman are stripped
away, only to reveal even more layers of fearlessness buried
underneath. Here, she isn't merely naive and senseless in
the push for justice, but almost allured by the fact that
she is putting herself at a serious risk.
movie is driven by a brilliant performance from Cate Blanchett,
who becomes Veronica Guerin almost as easily as a caterpillar
evolves into a butterfly. Towards the opening of the picture,
she wanders into the dank corridors of an abandoned motel,
now shelter to hundreds of young heroine addicts, to research
for a story she hopes to write on the drug problem in Ireland.
She asks questions like any competent reporter, but is secretly
horrified by the sights. Shortly after, she joins a picket
line of concerned parents marching against the out-of-control
drug trafficking, a march that will inevitably grow much
larger by the time she takes her findings to the press.
for Guerin, reporting the facts of these deplorable conditions
on the Irish streets is just the first step of the research.
In order to fulfill the interest of the readers and expand
her credentials as a journalist with the mindset to create
chaos, she descends deeper into this world of conflict,
seeking specific names and identities that she can connect
to the trafficking and thus expose in one of her all-important
newspaper write-ups (assuming that Irish law allows her
to publish specific names to begin with). Such a task no
doubt is met with concern on every side of the fence, even
with John Traynor (Ciarán Hinds), a story source
and friendly acquaintance with possible cartel connections,
who is always warning an undaunted Veronica to watch where
she steps, even after there are death threats made and she
is shot at in her own home.
has been compared to Meryl Streep for the way in which she
becomes immersed in such a diverse supply of material, and
watching "Veronica Guerin" exemplifies that comparison.
Here is an Australian actress who has inhabited the personas
of Queen Elizabeth, a New York housewife, a southern clairvoyant,
a Polish activist and a pointy-eared elf all in the space
of five years (and will no doubt find even more distinctive
personas to add to her belt with the upcoming "The
Missing" and next year's "The Aviator").
This movie rests entirely on her conviction to penetrate
the persona and reveal it on a human level, and she delivers
on ever cylinder. Her focused gaze stares back at the enemy
without so much as a hint of fear or regret; no, not even
when she strides right up to the front door of the suspected
drug leader John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley) and demands
to know the source of his unexplained wealth. The fact that
she drives away from the confrontation bruised and bloody
only phases her for a brief duration before she returns
to the fray to test other tactics. Perhaps balls that big
should be surgically removed.
the end of the movie, there is a subtle reminder that hundreds
of journalists lose their lives each year while on the job,
which in turn is preceded by an unnecessary voice-over telling
us that Guerin's work influenced much more in Irish society
than just exposing the identities of the drug ring. The
fact that the information is pertinent to the story's closure
is irrelevant, alas; layered with sentiment, the narration
treats the events as if no one in the audience would ever
actually know of the journalist's heroism unless specifically
told. Looking back at every twist and turn that Guerin endured
leading up to her untimely demise is more than sufficient
enough to see her in the way the movie intends; if she wasn't
important, after all, why would anyone have made a movie
about her in the first place?
© 2003, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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