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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

The Devil's Own
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
Columbia TriStar Home Video 03/97 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - strong brutal violence, language

"Justice is the sum of all moral duty," William Godwin once wrote. The only problem is that there are differing views of justice. This fact of life is at the heart of The Devil's Own directed by Alan J. Pakula.

Judge Peter Fitzsimmons (George Hearn) arranges for Rory Devaney (Brad Pitt), an Irish terrorist, to stay in the suburban home of New York police sergeant Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford). This straight-laced cop, his wife, and their daughters have no idea of Rory's true identity. While he is busy acquiring Stinger missiles from Billy Burke (Treat Williams), an American arms dealer, Rory finds himself emotionally drawn into his host family's life. He hasn't known feelings like this since childhood before his father was murdered in front of his eyes by British secret agents.

Meanwhile, Tom faces the biggest crisis of his career when his partner (Ruben Blades) shoots an unarmed criminal in the back and then expects him to cover up the incident. Tom decides to retire from the force. But before he can turn in his badge, he is drawn into Rory's nightmare when several of Burke's thugs break into his home and nearly kill his wife.

Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford deliver stirring and credible performances as two men whose passionate commitment to justice puts them on a collision course. Rather than emphasizing adrenalin-pumping action sequences, Pakula centers the film on the moral conflict between the Irish freedom fighter and the stalwart believer in law and order achieved with the least amount of violence. At one point, Rory tells Tom, "Don't look for a happy ending. It's not an American story, it's an Irish one."

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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