Monday, May 14, 2007

Defence of the Realm (1985)

dir. David Drury
Viewed on: 2007-04-29
Rating: 6

I saw Defence of the Realm over two weeks ago and couldn't really be bothered to write about it. That might say enough, but I don't want to give the impression that it was bad. But basically, if you've seen one 1980s conspiracy thriller, you've seen 'em all. A journalist, played by Gabriel Byrne, discovers that a British MP is a spy for the Soviets, and then learns there is much more to the story. I'm sure the film was quite suspenseful and timely for its day, but despite some generally good writing and acting, it's kind of dated now. In particular, the intensity is at least a couple of notches lower than what you see today in TV shows ("MI5,"* "Alias," "24") let alone in movies. The lack of intensity is probably due to the fact that Defence is heavy on plot and lacking in character development. For example, there is an opportunity to develop a romance between Byrne's character and Greta Scacchi's, but nothing happens. ...Or maybe it did and I fell asleep? Geez, I'm not doing this movie any favors.

Seriously, you could do so much worse. I mean, it's worth checking out if you ever come across it on cable and are in the mood for a conspiracy movie. I suppose a couple of other highlights were seeing Denholm Elliott (Marcus Brody in the Indiana Jones movies) and the young Robbie Coltrane (now mostly known as Hagrid) in different contexts.

*I highly recommend MI5, "Spooks" in its native UK, for a very realistic and dramatic spy show. One of the reasons I gave up on "24" and "Alias" several years ago was that I saw "MI5" and had a hard time going back to the sheer fantasy of the other shows.

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