Joel Schumacher is the most inconsistent filmmaker ever to pick up a camera. The man seriously seems to have schizophrenia. Is the guy who made the hauntingly beautiful Tigerland really the same man who thought the line "Ice to see you!!!" was comic gold? His films veer wildly between good (Phonebooth, Tigerland, The Lost Boys) and miniature black holes which suck so hard that light itself cannot escape them (Batman and Robin, 8mm). Well chock Veronica Guerin into the latter, a film made with no subtlety, and all the depth of a 1st grader's book report, which attempts to guilt you into liking it. That's right I'm panning a film about a woman who sacrificed her life so the children of Ireland could live in slightly less squalid slums. Yes I'm going to hell. The only other film that I can remember feeling so manipulated by was Patch Adams, a movie that so desperately wanted to make you a kinder, better person that despite its unrelentingly horrific nature, you still felt kind of bad when you took out your sludge hammer. Minor Spoilers follow.
Veronica Guerin, is about well, Veronica Guerin. Guerin is a journalist who in the 90's went on a brave crusade against the Irish drug trade, much to their disliking, and was killed. Along the way we get subplots about how every journalist in the world is a coward besides Guerin and how Drugs are whack yo. This is the sort of movie where the director isn't sure if you are going to understand that the bad guy is bad if he merely shouts expletives and death threats, so it has him shout expletives and death threats while he beats the crap out of Guerin. Now I'm sorry, unless the crime boss is Bozo the clown, he's not going to beat the crap out of Guerin personally. This leads me to think that either, A. This is the dumbest crime boss in history. B. This movie is just making stuff up. I'm inclined to go with B. Now look I'm sure that Guerin was persecuted, and I'm sure she did take a beating. But I'm equally sure that the head of a crime organization didn't do it personally.
Now let me say this, if there is one good thing about Guerin it’s the actors. Cate Blanchet gives Veronica a quiet dignity that the rest of the movie doesn't allow for. Gerard McSorley plays the remarkably stupid crime boss, John Gilligian, with a ferocious energy which is impossible to dislike even though the character himself is about as credible as an Oliver Stone movie. Colin Farrell shows up for a cameo that is simultaneously very very entertaining and very very pointless. Doesn’t matter. None of that saves this mess.
Credibility issues, poor plot work, and a complete lack of finesse aside, the greatest problem is Guerin herself. We don't know who she is. She's treated as a saint. Now yes Guerin was very brave and did a good thing, but she's not Gandhi. Why is she doing this? Moral outrage? A death wish? Frankly I have no idea and I’m pretty certain that neither do Schumacher or Blanchett. She's presented as an enigma and not a very interesting one. She’s a Michael Moore like figure without motivation or wit, just saintly determination used for busting in on angry drug dealers with a camera. She's presented as a martyr, not a human being. Really THAT is the problem at the core of this movie: Guerin is too saintly to be interesting.
If you go into this movie prepare to walk out feeling sickened. Not because of the injustices Guerin fought against and eventually succumbed to, but because you will feel like Joel Schumacher has spent two hours shaking you and screaming "LOOK! LOOK AT THIS WOMAN WHO DIED FOR THE DRUGS YOU USED YOU VICIOUS BASTARDS" while Cate Blanchett looks on with quiet determination. The only thing you'll feel walking out of this movie is manipulated and that sucks worse then Batman and Robin.
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