On Thursday, January 18, the crime thriller “In the Land of Saints and Sinners” opened in cinemas, the world premiere of which took place at the 80th Venice Film Festival. Despite the fact that the mostly monotonous roles in films with the participation of 71-year-old Irish actor Liam Neeson have turned into a separate genre, in fact, “a film with Liam Neeson”, in the review below we tell you why this project has a right to life rather than No.
a down-to-earth and gritty movie that leads quite competently to the climax; another confident performance by Liam Neeson, and other performers are in their places; wonderful location shots of an Irish coastal town and endless hills washed by the Atlantic Ocean
the dragging nature of the narrative is not always justified, because at certain moments boredom sets in; the plot is completely devoid of even the smallest surprises – in this context everything is very standard and predictable; characters are pure archetypes
“In the Land of Saints and Sinners”
Genre crime thriller, action
Directed by Robert Lorenz
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, Kerry Condon, Jack Gleeson, Colm Meaney, Sarah Greene
Year of manufacture 2024
In the mid-70s, members of the Irish Republican Army stage a terrorist attack in Belfast, which goes a little wrong. The would-be demolitionists find shelter in a godforsaken hole called Glencolemkill, where the peaceful sound of the surf is disturbed only by shots from Finbar Murphy’s gun.
In some parallel universe, this man could work as an air marshal or a snow blower, but here he is a World War II veteran with a difficult past who works as a village hitman. However, Finbar wants to give up this thankless task in order to start growing seedlings of flowers, vegetables, etc.
Unfortunately, these noble endeavors were not destined to come true, since the hero has to intervene in the affairs of a local family in which he notices physical abuse of a child. Unable to tolerate such outrage, Finbar is forced to dust off his gun and punish the culprit. But, as it turns out, he is connected with the Belfast bombers, who are ready to take revenge on the scoundrel who offended their comrade (and to some, their brother).
In the Land of Saints and Sinners is the second collaboration between director Robert Lorenz and local star Liam Neeson, following The Protector (2021). It is worth noting that this film, which even managed to get into one of the competition programs at last year’s Venice Film Festival, is noticeably better than its predecessor.
This is a 100% stern male movie with an equally stern “retired” protagonist, and its action takes place in a gloomy Irish outback, where justice is nowhere to be found. At the same time, right up to the climax, the authors practically abandon action scenes and rely on a thriller designed to build up the atmosphere. Not to say that it’s terribly interesting to watch this course of events, but the desire to see what will happen next and how Neeson will give the next gang of villains a light does not disappear anywhere.
The narrative here is drawn-out, unhurried and is based on the anxious expectation that the parties to the conflict will finally begin to act.
Liam Neeson once again delivers the image of a world-weary old man who has hung up his gun but still has enough gunpowder to take on a bunch of bad guys (and a mean girl). The actor has long found his niche and feels at home in such roles like a duck to water, and his elusive ability to be an extremely attractive character often becomes useful even against the backdrop of hopelessly secondary material. Ciaran Hinds is also memorable, mostly due to the fact that he does not play a villain, and Kerry Condon, again appearing in the setting of the luxurious Irish landscapes after the brilliant tragicomedy “The Banshee of Inishereen”, and Jack Gleeson from “Game of Thrones”.
“In the Land of Saints and Sinners” is a simple movie that clearly lacks stars from the sky and does not claim the laurels of your John Wicks or Tyler Rake. This movie is of a slightly different kind, more modest, calmer, in the end, more down-to-earth and realistic, and therefore one that will definitely find its audience.
In its mood and pace, the film is reminiscent of the third “The Great Equalizer”, only it is less subtle and with Liam in the setting of the windy Irish wilderness instead of the unwavering Denzel among the pleasant sun-drenched Sicilian landscapes. Perhaps the proposed earthiness will not be enough to prevent the plot from disappearing from your mind half an hour after viewing. But it’s enough to root for Neeson’s charming hero at least one more time. It’s not for nothing that the local barmaid treats him to a pint of excellent Guinness.
“In the Land of Saints and Sinners” deserves to be noticed by viewers (especially fans of the genre). It would be a stretch to call it a step forward for Liam Neeson, given his unpretentious filmography in recent years. So the film looks even better than you might have expected before watching it.