Reviewed by: Ken James
So says Frankie McGuire (as he is known in Ireland), alias Rory Devaney (Brad Pitt), a notorious IRA “freedom fighter,” to Irish-American New York city cop, Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford). While both may be of Irish origin, that is where the similarities cease.
Tom O'Meara is a compassionate, honest, God-fearing family man who, with twenty years on the police force, has only fired his gun three times. Rory Devaney, on the other hand, takes little thought of a divine Creator, choosing on his own to end the life of whomever stands in the way of the IRA. He cannot understand what it is to live a life of peace, having witnessed as a young boy the brutal slaying of his father.
After narrowly escaping his own appointment with death in Belfast, Rory heads to the U.S. where he plans to purchase several Surface to Air Missiles to aid the endeavors of the IRA. He enters America as a seemingly harmless immigrant desiring to escape the violence of his homeland and become immersed in the “land of opportunity.” The O'Meara family graciously take him into their home, unaware of his background. In this innocence, Tom and Rory form an immediate friendship not unlike that which Rory once had with his own father.
Their relationship begins to crumble, however, when mob-style violence penetrates into the O'Meara home as a result of Rory’s dealings with shady characters in the city. Tom begins to suspect there may be something more to the innocent-looking Irishman and takes it upon himself to uncover the truth. Tom will stop at nothing, not even death, to uncover what he knows is righteous and just.
Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt are perhaps the best actors of their generation. Their on-screen chemistry surpassed my expectations, as did the filmmakers wise decision to omit any hint of sensuality, nudity, or sex… However, the brutal violence (shootings, bombings, blood, heads without bodies) and incessant swearing do lead to disappointment.
As the main family in “The Devil’s Own”, the O'Meara’s are happy, honest and hard-working. They are active in their faith (Catholicism) and display a higher moral character than you would expect from most Americans. Tom cares greatly about following the truth to any extent… and when faced with his own weakness in covering for another officer who acted out-of-line, he searches out his own morals and realizes the truth must prevail. It is this character trait that compels Tom to succeed on his newfound mission: to find Rory, bring justice, and save him from certain death at the hands of the British.
If you are looking for a happy ending, just remember… “it’s not an American story—it’s an Irish one.”
Want to learn more about the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and other important topics in Ireland? Read this commentary