In Fifty Dead Men Walking Jim Sturgess plays Martin McGartland, a young man recruited by the British security forces (represented here by Sir Ben Kingsley as ‘Fergus’) to infiltrate the IRA.
Inspired by a true story, the film follows McGartland as he makes the journey from small time crook to IRA team leader. Along the way he meets IRA ‘intelligence officer’ Grace (Rose McGowan), who looks like she’s moonlighting from a catwalk, and starts a family with local girl Lara.
Despite the huge potential offered by the scenario, there’s little actual tension in the story which is largely uninspired and flat. Any potential sense of danger is fatally undermined by the numerous open air meetings McGartland and Fergus have.
As you’d expect, Kingsley delivers the film’s best performance but too often looks as if he’s acting down to the level of his co-stars. Sturgess’s own performance lacks any sense of conviction and I found myself unable to believe in his character.
There’s a glimmer of excitement when McGartland’s work for the British is finally discovered by his IRA colleagues but ultimately it’s not enough to redeem this shallow trip into Northern Ireland’s troubled and highly complex past.
Fifty Dead Men Walking opens Friday 10th April 2009