Shadow Dancer Review - An Explosive Political Thriller That Grabs Your Attention and Holds On

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Shadow Dancer,” from Magnolia Pictures BFI and BBC Films, presents a riveting psychological spy thriller, with unexpected plot twists and turns, pitting the determined against the skilled, all leading to an unbelievable conclusion.

Directed by James Marsh, “Shadow Dancer” stars Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Brid Breenan, David Wilmot and Martin McCann and is based on the novel of the same name written by Tom Bradby.

When we first meet the McVeigh Family, it is 1973 and murders in the streets of Belfast, Ireland, are common. Collette, the only daughter, is sent out on an errand for her father only she tells her little brother to go, when he says no, she bribes him.

After what seems like an eternity, as time ticks away on a slow Sunday in Northern Ireland, the door bursts open and the boy, Sean, is back, carried in by neighbors, dead. A victim of the bloody street violence that plagued Northern Ireland in the 1970’s

Fast forwarding, its 1990s Belfast, the Irish Republican Army, (IRA), after decades of carnage and slaughter gave way to the rise of the modern terrorist, and now we meet an adult Collette, played by Andrea Riseborough, in the London Tube, lost in her own world, with dead eyes and a blank expression, sent to send a message.

MI5, British Secret Intelligence, followed her and after a quick cat and mouse chase with an apparent escape, Collette is taken into custody. Held alone she is interrogated by Mac, played by Clive Owen, and given an ultimatum, informant for MI5 or face life in prison. Holding her son as the bait, Collette makes the only decision she believes she can.

Years of fighting against the sovereign UK for freedom and self-rule the IRA, now infamous for assassinations, bombings, death, destruction and mass casualty, and Collette’s brothers, Gerry played by Aiden Gillen and Connor,  played by Domhnall Gleeson, are well known for their involvement in the war. As the freedom fighters surge toward recognition and independence from the British Government, the IRA punctuates their demands with violence which is met, in retaliation, with violence.

MI5, under the direction of Kate Fletcher played by Gillian Anderson, runs a secretive shop. Her branch is dedicated to infiltrating the IRA and stopping any further bloodshed and bringing those responsible to justice. Mac finds himself suddenly locked out of meetings and much needed information.

MI5, he discovers, is not without a double agenda. With one mole under deep cover, Collette faced the possibility of an internal set up. With two under; one becomes the decoy, placating the local leader of the IRA Ian Gilmore, played by Stuart Graham, who after a series of thwarted assassination attempts, becomes suspicious of her. 

Intriguing from the beginning, I was caught off guard, as the plot evolved, and truly never saw the sequences of events coming. From the beginning, it was impossible to guess what would happen next. “Shadow Dancer” grabs your attention and holds on.

A true suspense thriller “Shadow Dancer” retells what could be any family’s story in Northern Ireland before the Good Friday Ceasefire in 1998 that ended decades of violence. Northern Ireland now, through vote, belongs to the United Kingdom; while the rest of Ireland was granted the freedom and independence they sought and are now known as The Republic of Ireland.

Shadow Dancer” is produced by Chris Coen, Andrew Lowe, Ed Guiney and is currently available on VOD. It is rated “R” for violence and language.

Shadow Dancer” opens in select cities on May 31, 2013.

 

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