Directed by Nick Hamm
This is one of those cases where I wish they had made a different movie. This movie is not credible. It purports to be a fictionalized representation of real events, but even as a fictional reconstruction, it is just not believable. The idea of it, the plot line especially, and the way the characters are presented seems simplistic, naive, and sentimental. The limousine driver, who is a bumbling idiot as well as an intelligence operative, was the least credible of all.
I have no knowledge of the actual events upon which this is based. I barely recognized the names of the two lead characters, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. But I don’t feel like I learned very much about them from this. I think the film presented them more sympathetically than they perhaps deserve. I came away from it wondering what really happened in these negotiations. The most telling aspect of the film was the archival photos shown at the end of the two as First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland after the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement. They are shown together in numerous photographs smiling and laughing heartily. It does puzzle me how this turnaround in these two mortal enemies came about. But I don’t think this film sheds any light on it.
I am skeptical of everything in this film, but the limousine driver is the giveaway that the whole thing is a concoction. It is the limousine driver who gets the two men talking to each other after thirty years of unmitigated enmity. No, I don’t think so. These two leaders would realize that this driver’s pose as an ignorant numbskull who didn’t even know who they were was a ruse. Then the intelligence officer in charge of orchestrating this excursion to the airport decides to have the security car following the vehicle abandon its role and cease shadowing the three principals. This is a foolhardy move that no intelligence officer would make. And then the car runs out of gas and they have to stop for refueling on a one hour trip to the local airport. What? The limousine driver’s credit card is declined by the service station and so Ian Paisley has to browbeat and intimidate the attendant to give them the gas without paying for it. Then as the limousine driver is pumping the gas into the van McGuiness discovers a revolver sticking prominently out of his back pocket. It’s laughable. McGuiness should have blown the driver’s head off on the spot. It’s not clear what happens to that gun. Does McGuiness keep it, or does he give it back to the driver? Does Paisley know McGuiness is armed for the remainder of the trip? The trip starts out in a rain storm, but when they make the detour and stop in the forest and McGuiness and Paisley walk alone in the woods, the rain has stopped and the sun is actually shining. When they get back into the car to continue on to the airport, it is raining again. The whole thing is stupid. Don’t waste your time and money.
It would be interesting to see a well made documentary on how this settlement actually came about. The Northern Ireland conflict was long and bitter and many thought it would never come to an end. It is curious that it actually did, and how well was that success? It would be a good subject for a film, if there is someone capable out there who wants to do it. But this screenplay by Colin Bateman can be thrown in the trash. This film is a failure (although the two actors, Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney, are good). It is a shallow, sentimental presentation of something that deserves a much more serious treatment.