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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute cracker
The showbiz adage of 'never work with children or animals' was, within the British film industry, extended to 'never work with children, animals or Denholm Elliot'. He was, rightly, labelled a 'scene stealer' and with his passing, one of the 'true stars' were lost.
Gabrielle Byrne and Greta Scacchi star in this 1984 UK film, but the film, despite featuring a young...
Published on March 19, 2000 by Glyn Davies

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical political thriller
This is a tough film to review because on one hand it doesn't take a linear approach to plot/storytelling, which means that the viewer has to fit a lot of the pieces together. But the thing is, there are different approaches to making a film in which the viewer has to fit pieces together.

For example, in "Fear X", with John Turturro, the method used in which...
Published on October 27, 2006 by LGwriter


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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute cracker, March 19, 2000
The showbiz adage of 'never work with children or animals' was, within the British film industry, extended to 'never work with children, animals or Denholm Elliot'. He was, rightly, labelled a 'scene stealer' and with his passing, one of the 'true stars' were lost.
Gabrielle Byrne and Greta Scacchi star in this 1984 UK film, but the film, despite featuring a young Robbie Coltrane ( Cracker ), is forever Elliot's. Massively underrated, this film is a powerful indictment of the true 'powers that be'. Governments come and governments go, but the engine room remains in place, along with the stokers.
Is this a political thriller, a journalistic thriller, a shadowy thriller even - scary too, maybe ?. Probably all and more besides. It's very taut, very fast, very complex and, perhaps, very true to life ( the scary bit ). Underhand and double dealing are rife and little mercy is shown to the designated stooges. Elliot, as Vernon Bayliss, suffers no fools here and realising the enormity of the truth and confiding in nobody, pays a heavy price for his refusal to be swept along with the tide of seemingly incontrovertible proofs. Perhaps Fox Mulder saw this film and coined 'trust no-one' from Elliots' performance.
What is sure, though, is that a field day awaits conspiracy theorists who watch this. There is no sex, no violence and no profanity and I defy anyone to watch this film only once.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One you missed at the theatre., December 9, 2003
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This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
Saw this little gem when it originally was released theatrically. Needless to say, I was impressed.
Starring a terrific Gabriel Byrne (does this guy ever age?), it is a very tight story of a newspaper reporter (Byrne) who comes across a story of a Member of Parliament having an affair with a prostitute, who is also seeing a KGB agent.
But things are much more complex than they initially appear, and it becomes a much thicker paranoia thiller (one of my favourite themes). If you liked "The Parallax View" (1974) - or favour conspiracy theories - then you'll like this very British effort.
Watch for the gaggle of reporters camped on the Minister's doorstep. Durning the scene, a car backs into one of the reports, knocking him down. It is never explained...
The DVD transfer is exceptional, though in typical MGM fashion, there are no extras except for the original trailer.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thinking person's movie, November 23, 2003
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This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
Fast moving all too credible movie showing dealing with the issue of press freedom versus what should be considered secrets of the state.
Great casting. This is a gem that is surprisingly little known.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When National Security is at risk, no-one stands in the way, February 25, 2009
By 
Junglies (Morrisville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
This could have been a plot for MI-5 (and probably was) but has an eery air of reality about it. Although the beginning of the film harks back to a 1960's scandal (no pun intended but see the movie Scandal), it has links with another recent movie, Bank Job.

There are similarities too, with the events of 1986, when US planes from a base in Britain bombed Libya.

This film is made with an all star cast and some compelling plots and sub-plots. The political links between newspaper proprietors and politicians and the British establishment are sketched out alluding to the covert meetings in gentleman's clubs. More sinister are the covert operations and the fine lines of distinction between the regular police and Britain's Security forces. It is hard not to think of the allegations of skullduggery surrounding the Princess Diana affair when the bombblast destroys the reporter's flat.

This thriller evokes a very suspense atmosphere which can almost be felt, particularly when the journalist is released from the clutches of the security forces after their interrogation into the chilly London dawn.

I could go on but would rather encourage others to watch this exceelent film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller from Over the Sea, December 19, 2005
This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
Defense of the Realm is a very interesting movie about the British government and the extent they will go to protect it. Nick Mullen (Gabriel Byrne) is an investigative reporter that has stumbled onto a scandal that could rock the government. When the story unravels to a bigger scandal, his life becomes in danger.

I always am skeptical of these types of film but something about this has a ring of authenticity. Gabriel Byrne always has an intensity about him. In this film he rises to a new height. Greta Scacchi is great as the politician's secretary that gets involved with Byrne.

This film will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.

DVD EXTRAS: None
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Trumpet Solitare for Gabriel", January 12, 2009
By 
Phoebe Stogstill (by the shores of Gitchee Gumee) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
This British political intrique is so fast-paced that you will have to watch in rapt attention so that you don't miss anything, or re-view. It is as entertaining as a movie can be. As a writer who has just finished writing a novel, I am always curious as to who could play the leads in my stories. Gabriel has an uncanny resemblence to my character--could this proud Irishman also emote the body language, timing and speech of my protagonist, an American historical figure? I have viewed as much of Gabe's filmography as I could over the last year and I am convinced he is THE ONE for my fantasy, time-travel,action adventure. He has quite a range, as I have discovered.
"Defense of the Realm" is one of my favorites from all his movies I have viewed. It is taut with innuendo and "what ifs" that occur as a result of his character's journalistic diggings into a political sex scandal. All of the players are very good as plots unravel before us.
Last night (1-11-09) Gabriel Byrne received a well-deserved Golden Globe. About time for this deserving, but somewhat obscure actor to be recognized.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defense of the Realm, December 29, 2002
Overlooked. Something of a quiet sensation when it came out in the mid 1980's. Starring Gabriel Byrne(in his first lead role), Greta Scacchi, and Denholm Elliot. The script could have been written by John Le Carre. A complex, claustrophobic, dark, fast-paced film which requires alertness on the part of the audience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such A Shame......, November 24, 2009
By 
This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
Such a shame this movie could not have apent more time developing the storyline & in the process the various lead characters as in my opinion it comes the closest of any movie I have seen that tries to tell the truth about decision-making in the highest levels of government. The fact that various real-life events were referred to proved that this was not just another fictional thriller but someone trying to make a statement of reality concerning the situation as it actually is. However truthfully this reflects the state of affairs in Britain, it does also (& perhaps more so) for that of the US.

If more time & care had been taken with this film it would have been truly great. But since as with so many films it cut corners, I can only give it 4 stars.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical political thriller, October 27, 2006
By 
LGwriter "SharpWitGuy" (Astoria, N.Y. United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
This is a tough film to review because on one hand it doesn't take a linear approach to plot/storytelling, which means that the viewer has to fit a lot of the pieces together. But the thing is, there are different approaches to making a film in which the viewer has to fit pieces together.

For example, in "Fear X", with John Turturro, the method used in which the pieces have to be fit together is an intriguing one because, principally, we are given some extremely interesting characters who pull us into the story and make us WANT to put the pieces together. The difference between "Fear X" and "Defense of the Realm" is instructive. In the latter, the primary focus in NOT on the characters but instead on the plot machinations that beg the viewer to fill in the gaps. This plot-driven approach--with basically flat characters--does very little to really attract the viewer enough to want to put the pieces together.

Instead, we are taken from point A to point B, almost willy-nilly, with the filmmakers (writer and director) expecting us to do what has to be done to make sense of the film without providing characters we really care about. This makes the filmgoing experience a relatively dreary one. Briefly, reporter gets top story on political scandal, repercussions ensue, reporter digs up more information, the plot thickens (with emphasis on the word "thick"), revelations emerge, tragedy develops--and headlines, headlines, headlines.

Gabriel Byrne does a competent job in his first starring role as the reporter Nick Mullen, but the real heart of the film is Denholm Elliot who turns in a smashing performance. If only he had been given more time on screen! He's really the soul of "Defense of the Realm", the one who we DO care about, because he's a fully fleshed out character--in fact, the only one. He's a real pleasure to watch and perfectly conveys the tremendous anxiety that high-level political secrets carry with them.

Also on hand turning in competent performances are Greta Scacchi and Ian Bannen. But as is true of Nick Mullen, they are mostly undeveloped and only exist to move the plot along, such as it is.

With more substantial writing in which characters were more fully developed, this would have been a much more gripping film. As it is, with its plot-heavy emphasis, it's a burden.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Defence of the Realm, May 9, 2008
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This review is from: Defense of the Realm (DVD)
All about whistle blowing and why everyone should for a better world.
I like Gabriel Byrne and Greta Scacchi so I'm a little prejudiced. I guess this movie shows me up as a frustrated journalist.
I guess I would have done exactly what Gabriel Byrne did and suffer a similar fate.
A British movie with no screaming sirens, roaring helicopters and screeching tires. A break from Bruce Willis.
Very believable but beware of the ending.The Holcroft Covenant
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Defense Of The Realm
Defense Of The Realm by David Drury
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