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When The Sky Falls

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Joan Allen, Kevin McNally. A hard-nosed Dublin journalist, wife and mother deals with thugs, drug dealers and mobsters in this gripping thriller. 2000/color/106 min/R.


This gray portrait of the Dublin underworld, produced in the United Kingdom, is a refreshing--though brutal--change from the usual aren't-they-quaint Hollywood portrayals of the Irish. Joan Allen stars as Sinead, a feisty reporter who is waging a crusade against the Dublin heroin trade. The story and character are based on real-life Irish reporter Veronica Guerin, but the movie is far from an idealized portrait. Allen lets Sinead's occasional cocky manner and foolhardiness show through as clearly as her convictions. While it is at times hampered by the constraints of budget (the soundtrack is particularly noticeable in that regard), When the Sky Falls offers a realistic portrayal of both the viciousness of a crime scene and the frustration of the police. Allen is more than ably backed by a terrific supporting cast of Irish actors. And yes, she does the accent just fine. This movie is not a masterpiece, but it's well worth a look. --Ali Davis

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Allen, Patrick Bergin, Liam Cunningham, Kevin McNally, Jimmy Smallhorne
  • Directors: John Mackenzie
  • Writers: Colum McCann, Guy Andrews, Michael Sheridan, Ronan Gallagher
  • Producers: Bruce Davey, David McLoughlin, Greg Johnson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: January 15, 2004
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005J769
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,017 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "When The Sky Falls" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
The story is finally told. "When the Sky Falls" is a fact-based drama of the events surrounding the high profile murder of crime reporter Veronica Guerin in Ireland in 1996. In the movie, Joan Allen plays Sinead Hamilton, a reporter for a Dublin newspaper (the names are changed, probably because of strict Irish libel laws). Hamilton probes Dublin's underworld, writing stories about the city's growing drug epidemic and in particular about a powerful drug lord named Hackett. As one might expect, Hackett (whose real name is John Gilligan) and his cronies are not pleased with Hamilton's exposure of their criminal activities. Hamilton soon becomes the target of intimidation and violence. Unwilling to be silenced, she continues to speak out against Hackett despite the danger to herself. Ultimately, she puts her life on the line for her devotion to the truth. Who would have thought that this would happen in a "safe" European country like Ireland? "When the Sky Falls" is a gritty and unblinking study of Guerin, the people out to stop her, and Dublin's drug problem. Allen does a respectable job portraying Guerin alias Hamilton, a reporter, wife, and mother risking her life for a just cause. Patrick Bergin also appears in the movie. He plays an unorthodox Garda (Irish police) detective who helps Hamilton and is determined to put Hackett away. Again, another good performance. This movie is a must see for people who like crime dramas or those who want know the full story of Veronica Guerin and her sacrifice.
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Format: DVD
2003 saw the extraordinary Cate Blanchett star in VERONICA GUERIN in the title role of the Irish investigative reporter for "The Sunday Independent" who ran afoul of Dublin's criminal underworld and was murdered on June 26, 1996. WHEN THE SKY FALLS, starring Joan Allen and released three years earlier, is a fictionalized version of the same story.
It would be difficult to choose between the two films. Allen and Blanchett are two of the best actresses in the business. The latter brought more effervescence - perhaps too much - to the role. The former ratchets the glamour of the Guerin persona down a notch to a more credible level. Indeed, for the purpose of the story, Allen takes on a fictional identity - Sinead Hamilton.
Key events in the efforts by Guerin/Hamilton to expose those behind Dublin's illegal drug traffic are common to both productions: the invasion of Guerin's home by a pistol wielding thug who shot her in the leg as a warning, her beating by the mobster John Gilligan - here named "Dave Hackett" (Gerard Flynn), and her fatal shooting by a couple of motorcycle riders while her cherry red sports car was stationary at a stoplight. WHEN THE SKY FALLS places greater emphasis on the emotional support provided by her husband, here played by Kevin McNally, while VERONICA GUERIN is a bit grittier in its depiction of heroin's effects on young addicts. Both movies provide an unsparing look at the violence employed by those controlling the drug trade, both show the importance of criminal informants to Guerin's/Hamilton's information gathering, and both portray the uneasy but ultimately symbiotic relationship the reporter had with local law enforcement.
If I was forced to pick my favorite of the two films, I guess I'd have to go with VERONICA GUERIN simply because I'm so smitten with Cate Blanchett. But both are eminently watchable, and both are a tribute to the quixotic bravery of the woman who paid the ultimate price.
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Format: DVD
I am not alone in checking out "When the Sky Falls" after watching the Cate Blanchett film "Veronica Guerin" since the 2000 film is a "fictionalized" account of the same story of the Irish reporter who was assassinated by mobsters in 1996. The obvious question was why would director John Mackenzie turn the real Veronica Guerin into the fictional Sinead Hamilton (Joan Allen). I did not know the answer until I watched the featurette on the "When the Sky Falls" DVD.
Before her murder Veronica Guerin was collaborating with writing Michael Sheriden on early drafts of the screenplay. The idea was to tell a realistic story about the Dublin criminal underworld and at some point it became obvious that the story should be about a crime correspondent investigating the story; in other words, a character modeled on Guerin. However, the reporter insisted that her name not be used and even when she was murdered and the story of "When the Sky Falls" became her story, director John MacKenzie respected her wishes and kept the name change. The film was supposed to end with the reporter being honored for blowing the lid of the drug lords, but when Guerin was murdered the story by screenwriters Michael Sheridan and Ronan Gallagher changed to not only end with her death but explain why the mother of a young boy continued to investigate and write stories any being shot and repeatedly threatened.
The story is about a journalist doing writing exposés on the Dublin drug trade. One of her key sources, Mickey O'Fagan (Jimmy Smallhorne) is not to be trusted and Mackey (Patrick Bergin), the cop in charge of the investigation, is more than willing to break the rules to bring down the drug lord Dave Hackett (Gerard Flynn).
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