The Devil’s Own - * *

The Devil’s Own is a messy, overscripted film that ignores the center of its conflict. Frankie McGuire (Brad Pitt) is an IRA soldier who comes to New York under an assumed name to buy rockets from a shady gun dealer (Treat Williams). A NY judge, who is also an IRA sympathizer, sets Frankie up with room and board with Tom O’Meara (Harrison Ford), a weary NY cop who doesn’t know of Frankie’s past as a terrorist. However, although Frankie and Tom bond, Frankie’s past and present begin to catch up with him, and threatens Tom and his family’s safety as well. There’s a very simple story underlying The Devil’s Own, about loyalty and betrayal and differing views on morality. However, that story gets lost amid layer after layer of overplotting and unneccessary characterization. The Devil’s Own would have been much better off if it had stuck with a simpler story, trimming several of the irrelevant characters and subplots, and simply concentrated on the relationship between its two central characters. Both Pitt and Ford do a decent job with what they are given, but they could have handled a lot more. For example, why does the film need Treat Williams’ arms dealer? The central issue of the film seems to be the shades of gray morality issues at play in Ireland, yet it seems as if the filmmakers decided they couldn’t make a film without an obvious bad guy. Heck, the audience might have to think…wouldn’t want that. Another annoying subplot involves O’Meara and his partner (Ruben Blades) in an issue of police ethics. The sole purpose of these scenes seems to be to set Harrison Ford’s cop up as an honest guy; yet, that much is blatantly obvious by merely casting Ford in the role. All of this time could have been much better spent fleshing out the core of the film: the conflict in Ireland, and the conflict between these two men. What there is of that in The Devil’s Own works, but there are so many distractions that the movie gets lost at times.

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