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When The Sky Falls review

Arriving as the latest in a string of films (Boys Don't Cry, The Hurricane, The Insider) which are based on controversial true- life stories, When The Sky Falls dramatises the events leading up to the murder of Irish crime journo Veronica Guerin in 1996.

Owing to the ongoing legal proceedings, all the names have had to be changed, yet director John Mackenzie has fashioned a taut and fluently shot thriller which honours its subject's crusading work.

American actress Joan Allen impresses as Sinead Hamilton, a newspaper reporter who's investigating Dublin's drug barons. Using information obtained from a small-fry dealer (Smallhorne) and a tenacious Garda inspector (Bergin), the maverick Hamilton gets close to some major gangland figures. Meanwhile, lurking in the back- ground are representatives of the IRA, who disapprove of this new breed of crime-lord...

As with The Long Good Friday, Mackenzie demonstrates his ability to combine gripping action sequences - a bungled raid on a rave club, rough justice meted out over a pool table - with pertinent social commentary: Dublin's affluent facade masks a city menaced by organised criminals who vigorously exploit loopholes in the judicial system. And Allen's Hamilton emerges not as a saint but rather as a credibly human figure, an `ordinary' wife and mother displaying outstanding bravery in the face of brutal intimidation.

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