Friday, June 19, 2015

A Prayer for the Dying (1987)

Director: Mike Hodges

Writers: Jack Higgins, Edmund Ward, Martin Lynch

Composer: Bill Conti

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Bob Hoskins, Alan Bates, Sammi Davis, Christopher Fulford, Liam Neeson, Leonard Termo, Camille Coduri, Alison Doody, Anthony Head

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They want his heart, his mind, his blood.  He wants his freedom.

Plot:  Martin Fallon is an IRA bomber who tries to blow up a troop truck but instead kills a bus load of school children. He loses heart and quits the movement and goes to London trying to leave the U.K. and start a new life. The IRA wants him back (he knows too much) and the local crime boss, Meehan, will only help him if he performs one last hit, on a rival crime boss. When Fallon does perform the hit, he is seen by a catholic priest. He refuses to kill an innocent again and must find a way to escape the police without killing the priest who can identify him.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Considering the director, I expected more.  It's said that he and Rourke disowned the film after the producers mucked with it.  I assume that their touches drastically changed the film.  As it stands, it's rather tedious.  You know what everyone wants pretty early on and there isn't much to surprise you.  The silly ending with the bomb on top of the church that threatens to kill the four main characters (still alive) is rather silly.  What's more, the two you expect to live do and one of the dead is miraculously not instantly killed and goes on to survive just long enough to say a few words.  Utterly ridiculous.  Rourke's performance isn't anything to write home about.  I didn't care for him at all.  He's pouty, quiet and looks like he's carrying the world on his shoulders but he's too cool for school at the same time.  Fans of his who get wet underpants just thinking about him will LOVE him in this.  Hoskins, though, is fantastic as usual.  Alan Bates is fun as the mob boss who hires Rourke and then wants to finish the job Rourke couldn't.  He starts out as an interesting villain but somewhere along the way he loses that spark of fun and just becomes the simple-minded heavy.  That's simplifying it too much I think.  It was probably his dumb, over the top manner of elaborately dispensing of his target.  Conti's score was nice.  Ultimately the picture offers some nice moments with Hoskins and Bates and early roles for Neeson and Head, but Rourke's bad boy with a redeeming heart of gold doesn't work for me in that "look at me" way.  It's tiresome.

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