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The Devil's Own has star power, but still doesn't work

The Devil's Own

I was truly disappointed with The Devil's Own. I saw who directed it and who starred in it and I was expecting some powerful piece with great acting. The acting was okay, meaning that Brad Pitt was terrific, but Harrison Ford actually gives one of his worst performances in his life (though that isn't half bad because all his performances before this have been terrific). The directing is what made me dislike the movie as much as I did. The pace was all wrong for this movie, sometimes being fast and exciting, but mostly it treads along at a turtle's pace while the audience is left trying to figure out what happened two scenes earlier.

I can't really explain the plot of The Devil's Own because I didn't know what was going on. From what I know, Brad Pitt plays Rory Devaney (which isn't his character's real name), an IRA member who has traveled to America to buy a truckload of guided missles. Harrison Ford plays Tom O'Meara, a friendly, trusting police officer in New York who is willing to let Devaney stay in his house with his family. Devaney comes to his house with a bag full of money and a gun. Despite this, he befriends the family and, in a way, makes them his own.

This sets up a conflict that I could see a mile away. Devaney goes to see his contact, Billy Burke (Treat Williams) who is selling the missles. This sets up the second half of the conflict that I could see. That was one of the biggest problems I had with the movie was that when it setup a plot twist, I could see it coming. In one example of that happening (besides the one aforementioned), O'Meara and his partner, Edwin Diaz (Ruben Blades), are chasing a radio thief. The thief found a gun in the glove compartment of one of the cars and shoots the cops. O'Meara chases after him while his partner takes an alternate route. The criminal throws the gun away, and while O'Meara is getting the gun, his partner shoots the criminal. Diaz takes the gun and puts it by the body, telling O'Meara that he has to lie about what happened.

I told you this because it sets up an obvious plot twist towards the end of the movie when O'Meara is faced with a similar conflict where he has to decide whether to kill or bring the guy in alive. The movie does this a lot by setting up plot twist and plot twist, and I had no problem with that. But the writers didn't make their message clear enough. I had no idea what the main story was until the end of the movie. I guess I wasn't paying much attention, but it's hard to listen to those Irish accents because I couldn't tell what they were saying half the time.

Perhaps this was all foretold by Pitt who wanted to back out of the project, but was forced in by a lawsuit. He said that the movie began filming before a script was evening finished. Maybe that's the reason the movie doesn't seem to have a direction. Or it could just be Pakula's fault for not clearing things up and fix the pacing. There are moments when there is a lot of action going on screen, and the police scenes are terrific, but they are few and far between. The thing that held my attention throughout the movie was Pitt's performance. He was funny, scary, and smart all at the same time, but I also had a problem with his character, which I blame on the writers. I wasn't sure if his character was a bad guy or a good guy. If it was a bad guy, then they should have made him more "bad." Duh. That's pretty obvious. If it was a good guy, then they shouldn't have had him running around killing everyone. Here's my advice: take out the entire part of Ireland and their war, and just leave it American. As Pitt's character said, "This isn't an American story... it's an Irish one."

The Devil's Own is rated R for strong brutal violence and language. I was really hoping for a really tense movie that entertained me throughout. And hearing that Pitt and Ford were together in this movie made me really want to see it. But I was disappointed as was my family. I guess Pitt was right when he said it was the worst set he worked on.

** out of ****

Reviews by Boyd Petrie
Movie Reviews