Main cast: Cate Blanchett (Veronica Guerin), Gerard McSorley (John Gilligan), Ciarán Hinds (John Traynor), Brenda Fricker (Bernie Guerin), Don Wycherley (Chris Mulligan), Barry Barnes (Graham Turley), and Simon O’Driscoll (Cathal Turley)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Why is it that Joel Schumacher’s name keeps cropping up in badly made movies? Not even the reliable Cate Blanchett and Ciarán Hinds can save Veronica Guerin from being a mediocre movie best suited for Hallmark or HBO release. Based on the real life story of Dublin reporter Veronica Guerin’s crusade to expose the drug cartel that led to her murder in 1996, this movie doesn’t seem to be aware of how singularly reckless and unlikable its Veronica Guerin is. I don’t think that self-respecting biopic drama can claim that it makes the audience go, “Gee, she sure had it coming, didn’t she?” when confronted with Guerin’s murder. But that’s what this movie does to me.
Guerin, moved by her witnessing lil’ kids playing with syringes and poor pale (but still cute) junkies artfully shivering in shanty houses that look as if they had been carted here straight from some avant garde neo-deco art project in Soho, decides to expose the drug cartel in Dublin. She hastily publishes a half-baked expose on a murder with details plied to her by her informant, John “The Coach” Traynor, only to realize later that she’s been used to further drug cartel boss John Gilligan’s agenda. She decides to fight back.
It is very hard to like this movie’s Guerin. Her investigative methods are dreadful. She is reckless and comes off like a drama queen in need of being constantly at the center of attention. That scene where she charges up alone to John Gilligan’s house only to get beaten up bloody by him is brutal, but it is also a scene that has me wondering just how stupid Guerin has to be to expect him to tell her everything just because she smirks arrogantly and demands that he do so. It is also hard not to wonder about the sanity of a woman that shows no concern that they are shooting at her house and calling her up to threaten to rape and murder her son. She just blithely charges on, not sparing any concern about her actions on her family. While her drug crusade is commendable, her actions here ring false.
Because this Guerin spares no thought for her safety and is often too stupid to live, it is hard to view her murder as anything more than the consequences of an extremely terminal braindead condition. Rather than a tribute, this movie ends up instead a morality tale for reporters and journalists everywhere. Stay safe, don’t be stupid, don’t be Veronica Guerin.