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50 Dead Men Walking

3.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Belfast hoodlum Martin (Jim Sturgess) is recruited by a British agent (Ben Kingsley) to infiltrate the IRA during the height of the Northern Irish conflict and quickly becomes embroiled in a dangerous game that could cost him his life if his secret is found out. As other informers are brutally murdered, Martin starts to look for a way out, but his handler urges him to stay undercover in this taut action packed thriller based on a true story.


In her nerve-jangling adaptation of Martin McGartland's memoir, director Kari Skogland takes the politics out of an inherently political scenario. As Martin, Jim Sturgess (21) affects a convincing accent as a "Catholic hood selling stolen goods" in Belfast in 1988. When the British Special Branch catches Martin in the act and coerces him to inform on the Irish Republican Army in lieu of jail time, he takes the bait, knowing full well the army will kill him if they find out. Once his girlfriend, Lara (Natalie Press), becomes pregnant, the income the British provide becomes more necessary than ever. Further, Martin's sympathetic handler, Fergus (Ben Kingsley in fine form), turns out to be even more of an ally than his best mate, Sean (Kevin Zegers). During Martin's days with the IRA, he also meets the flame-haired Grace (Rose McGowan in an underwritten role), who offers him a vision of a different life. The title refers to the belief that Martin's intelligence saved the lives of 50 potential targets, though the film suggests he acted more out of self-interest than a sense of duty. It's also hard to imagine that anyone raised in Northern Ireland could remain so resolutely apolitical--but it isn't inconceivable either. The real-life informer survived where many others did not, though he's been living under an assumed name since. Extras include deleted scenes, 30 minutes of fairly unilluminating B-roll (unused) footage, and commentary from Skogland, who states, "Ultimately, this movie is not a political story; this is a human drama." --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jim Sturgess, Sir Ben Kingsley, Rose McGowan, Kevin Zegers
  • Directors: Kari Skogland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Phase 4 Films
  • DVD Release Date: January 5, 2010
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002U2Q0EG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,750 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "50 Dead Men Walking" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Dobey on January 10, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
This story is based on the true story of a northern Irish man (Jim McGArtland) who joins the IRA and is also a informant for the government who is trying to stop the IRA's often random slaughter of people (terrorism) that was occurring during the late 1980's. To be fair the IRA was enforcing law when things were breaking down as well; but often they would target whole pubs or such for a murderous attack. And they were a terrorist organization who tortured people to death. (touts or informants in particular). The informant working the police is able to stop many attacks and he saves at least 50 men who were personally targeted. Hence the title of the movie. "50 dead men walking", men who were doomed but still alive because of the informant. Will the informant survive?, and what happens when MI-5 acts just as brutally against a IRA man? This story is one that deserves to be told and the acting is excellent. This is a solid movie featuring the always excellent Ben Kingsley as the man who oversees the informant. Rose McGowen shines in a supporting role as the ruthless head of IRA intelligence who will use her assets to kill or gain information. Every actor including the young lead Jim Sturgess play believable people who are driven by the hideous conditions (economic poverty, violence, racial intolerance, political fanaticism) of Northern Ireland that existed then. One IMPORTANT thing about this movie is that you may want to use the English subtitles because the northern Irish speak very quickly in their own slang English which is understandable but not that easy to follow without the subtitles. The blu- ray print is excellent and is well mastered so you won't have a problem with it in anyway. This was made by the Irish but it is as professional as any movie made by anyone else.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
50 DEAD MEN WALKING is an unusually powerful film that brings to the screen the real life story of Martin McGartland on whose book it is based (with co-writer Nicholas Davies). Director Kari Skogland has managed to recreate the flavors of the 1980s in Ireland at war with the British. The violence in the film may be difficult for some viewers but it so integrated with the story that it would not seem as fine a film without it.

Martin McGartland (Jim Sturgess) was a fly-by-night, door-to-door salesman in Belfast in the 80s. He is bonded with mates such as Sean (Kevin Zegers) among others and they manage to get into all manner of trouble until they are united with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) to defeat the British: of note at the end of the film, the British were in Ireland as occupiers for a total of 38 years, ending only in 2008 with a peace treaty! Martin feels a sense of duty with the IRA and is observed by the British intelligence, namely one Fergus (Sir Ben Kingsley) who convinces Martin to join forces as a 'tout' or informer within the IRA. It is this play of double lives that brings McGartland to a terrifying life, a life made whole only by his love for his girlfriend Lara (Natalie Press) and their children (born and unborn). The struggle Martin endures between loyalty to his mates and loyalty to the British who see Martin's role as one that could save the lives of at least '50 Dead Men Walking' is the line of the film that never lets up for a moment of rest in its demonstration of the futility of 'war', no matter what level.

Jim Sturgess is superb as Martin and the large supporting cast is as fine as any casting director could find. This is a very intense film, a film so true to the Irish brogue that subtitles are necessary to understand much of the story. It is a film well worth viewing, especially if the confusion about the long Irish/British war is not clearly understood by the viewer. Grady Harp, January 10
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Format: DVD
3.3 stars

50DMW was enjoyable on some fronts, especially Kingsley's acting and some great moments in the script, but I just couldn't buy Sturgess as Martin. He never made me feel for him one way or the other, I saw no real motivation for selling his friends out, and he just didn't seem at all believable.

Skogland's directing is solid, as is the script for the most part, but the occasionally brutal violence and tortures left me disliking both sides of the conflict equally. If Sturgess had been more sympathetic this film would have worked so much better for me. But maybe that's the point: he was what he was, neither good nor bad (or very bad, if you're pro-IRA).

I don't know enough about the "Troubles" to say who's right or wrong. My heart tends to side with home rule, but when one looks at all the innocent people dead on both sides it adds up to nobody being right. This movie could have made me feel so much more but Sturgess just seems on the fence in every way throughout, and by the end I was happy to see it all end, leaving me feeling that nothing had really been accomplished but more pain and death, despite the claim he saved 50 lives.

He sure didn't come off as much of a hero here, and ultimately all the violence just felt pointless. The film raises many questions and answers none, which may be the point. But I didn't feel like I learned much, or enjoyed it much, and without one or the other I can't say I loved any film, no matter how competent it may be. I did enjoy some of the supporting acting a fair bit, in any case, and Kingsley is excellent as always.
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