Film Scouts Reviews

"The Devil's Own"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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There are battles going on in "The Devil's Own": the troubles in Northern Ireland, and the big one between good and evil. Those are nothing compared to the generational fight between young lion and older. Whose story was it going to be? Brad Pitt's IRA fighter or Harrison Ford's good guy cop. Compromises rarely work in war or film and "Devil's Own" proves the point. Each character has a subplot that should add to the film but instead seem to distract from the main battle at hand. Will Ruben Blades' friendship with Ford be endangered by their working partnership? Is Treat Williams to be trusted? Who cares?

In trying to elicit an emotional response to Pitt's despicable terrorist character, to humanize him, the level of response to Ford's good guy is lessened. And that is a shame, because we need more heroes. Not that we need "Patriot Games II" which this is certainly not, but there is a moral ambiguity that, instead of heightening the story, levels it. If a terrorist is as much of a nice guy as a cop, then who is the hero? Are these good men who just react differently to the concept of duty, honor, country? Or just good-looking men stuck in a plot without hope. Maybe the on-set tensions between battling stars Ford and Pitt contributed to the lack of bonding that should have been central to the plot. There are also no clear moments of doubt for Pitt's terrorist when he might have changed, might have given up the IRA for the peaceful life he sees with Ford's family.

Wanna know who wins the "star wars"? Ford. He doesn't need to steal any scenes. They just flow to him. Wanna know who loses? The audience. Even though I liked the movie more than I disliked it, "Devil's Own" had the potential to be so much more. Director Pakula is the man who wrote and directed the suspenseful, morally conflicted "Sophie's Choice". I mean, he produced "To Kill A Mockingbird", "Up the Down Staircase" and "Love with a Proper Stranger"! What stood in his way? Only Ford and Pitt know. The most compelling bit about "Devil's Own' are the eight pages in the press kit outlining the 'conflict in Northern Ireland'. I learned a heck of lot including the origins of the word 'boycott'. Check out if you want to read the whole thing!

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