In the Land of Saints and Sinners REVIEW – A Real Blessing

As far as Liam Neeson actions flicks go, this one isn't too bad.

In the Land of Saints and Sinners
In the Land of Saints and Sinners

I’ve more or less given up on Liam Neeson’s movies. He’s a tremendous actor, but we all know that he’s taken on quite a number of these soulless action thrillers in recent years. But the cast for this movie convinced me to give this one a try, and I’m glad I did.

Neeson plays Finbar, a hired gun who’s grown tired with his job. After his most recent job, he decides it’s time to call it quits, and to spend the rest of his life doing something more meaningful. He allows himself to become more involved with the community, agreeing to a dinner invitation he’s always politely declined, and hanging out at the local pub when he usually wouldn’t. In a friendly bid to help out young Moya (Michelle Gleeson) while she’s fishing, he notices bruises on her neck, as well as her blatant fear when she accidentally drops all the bait into the river.

His curiosity piqued, he drops by the next day with a bunch of food, and spots more bruises on her, courtesy of her uncle Curtis (Desmond Eastwood). Livid, he wants the man killed, but doesn’t have a clue of the trouble he’s inviting to his doorstep, since Curtis is the brother of IRA terrorist Doireann (Kerry Condon).

The strength is In the Land of Saints and Sinners lies in its cast. Neeson is given the space to sell his character’s loneliness, as well as growing disgust for a job he’s done for so long. He’s a killer, but he’s a killer with a moral conscience. Jack Gleeson plays Kevin, one of Finbar’s colleagues, and his character is a complete contrast to Finbar. Kevin likes what he does, relishes in a job well done. Gleeson is so funny and unhinged in the role, and really shines in his scenes with Neeson. He gives such depth to a character who could have been one-note in the hands of another. Through Finbar and Kevin’s interactions, we see Finbar make peace with his past, but also encourage Kevin to be more than just the blood he has on his hands.

With a whole host of stellar performances, it is Condon who steals the show. She’s magnificent as the fiery Doireann, who’s fiercely protective of Curtis, and will go scotched earth to pay back the man who took him away from her. Doireann is absolutely ruthless, unapologetic and will do whatever it takes to get her revenge.

I like when films allow us to immerse ourselves in its setting and culture, and this is what In the Land of Saints and Sinners does really well. The setting of Northern Ireland is well-utilised, with its windswept locales and jaunty local pub life. We’re shown every little conversation Finbar has with the locals, and this helps establish a sense of community, as well as insight into Finbar’s character. Even the night shots are well-lit, which is a testament to good filmmaking.

As we head towards the inevitable confrontation, this is where the film sags a little. There isn’t enough tension present to keep us on edge, so we’re kinda just drifting about, waiting for the final showdown. The film could have been tighter in parts, and it would have been stronger for it. The climax of the film is fantastic though, with quite a bit of heart-pounding action.

Review screener provided.

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In the Land of Saints and Sinners
Sometimes a simple script can work if you have a stellar cast to do all the heavy lifting. With Liam Neeson, Kerry Condon and Jack Gleeson on board, In the Land of Saints and Sinners becomes a real treat.