While Loach’s Northern Ireland thriller doesn’t quite match Jim Sheridan’s similarly-themed “In the Name of the Father,” it does milk superlative if performances from Frances McDormand and Brian Cox, with the latter bearing his best knuckles.
In 1983, the British government dispatched an investigator to look into charges of torture and corruption within the British-run Ulster Constabulary. The British government ended up with a black eye.
In Loach’s fictionalized version, a cop named Kerrigan (Cox) is sent to Belfast to look into the murder of a pro-IRA human rights activist who was gunned down while headed pick up a “smoking gun” tape — one that allegedly confirms British government complicity and dirty tricks. His work partner and girlfriend Ingrid (McDormand) doesn’t buy the party-line police explanation of the murder.
She and Kerrigan, an admittedly unlikely due, team up to dig deeper. Loach’s anti-Thatcher England bias may mar the film for historical sticklers, but it also gives it a thumping pulse, Costa Gavras style. It’s clear enough who the bad guys are, but Loach’s grip on the story is such that it comes out as a documentary indictment, which is of course what he had in mind. Cox’s Kerrigan broadcasts a low-boil disdain that gradually erupts.