Five Minutes of Heaven (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 90 minutes
Starring: Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
"The man shot my brother three times in the head. The man is having the life of Riley. Do I shake is hand, or do I kill him?" That quote got me hooked into watching this movie. James Nesbitt's execution of that one line had already sold me on a movie that I may have otherwise passed on. Well, despite the two really strong performances out of this title, this sort-of revenge flick doesn't really live up to to the expectations I had with it. Not to say that's a bad thing.
I will say, I really had no idea the back story of this movie going in. Call me ignorant, but I had to get on Wikipedia to find out about the IRA and the Troubles, as they have called the conflict in Northern Ireland in the late twentieth century. So I will give the movie that - it made me more aware of the conflicts that I only read or heard headlines about while growing up. James Nesbitt plays Joe, a man who witnessed when he was just a small boy, the killing of his brother by Liam Neeson's Alistair. The movie takes place in three different segments - the actual plot and killing by Alistair, the TV interview between the two men after more than thirty years have gone by and the subsequent meeting that happens afterward. Alistair is part of a protestant terrorist group, the Ulster Volunteer Force and gets roped into killing a Catholic. While he kills his target - he looks over and sees a little boy staring at him - Joe, the target's little brother. Flash forward thirty years and Alistair is still haunted by Joe's staring image. He's since been a reformed man, or so we're lead to believe. And some hippie, "love conquers all" TV station decides to sit both of them down for what they call a reconciliation. Little do they know Joe plans on killing Alistair.
It a good set up - but one that fails to get things going right away. There's some good parts - the last third in particular was pretty spectacular. But to get there is a bit tedious and almost repetitive. I will give props to Liam Neeson who does a great job playing the redeemed lost soul and James Nesbitt is even better - he's maniacal, somewhat diabolical and completely unpredictable simply because of this one event that changed his life forever. I wouldn't say this movie was fantastic or great, but if you can stick through the first half - the movie rewards you with a great ending.
The movie was directed by the man who did Downfall, which has since become an internet meme on YouTube. You can pretty much find the clip in which Hitler is throwing a temper tantrum and the subtitles are changed to fit any number of topics: the Avatar trailer sucked, Brett Favre's unretirement, even Hitler reacts to all the Downfall parodies out there. Despite this unusual phenomenon, the movie I've heard is pretty fantastic and he's done a pretty good job with this one, too.
Initially this was going to be a lot harsher review, but after writing about it and thinking back on the movie - I was actually struck by the performances and the chills that Nesbitt sends down my back when he says some of his lines. It's a better movie than I initially thought - so check it out if you're up for a good, character-driven story about two men who seem to have lost their way in life.
Rating: Rent It!