Date: Thursday 22 March Time: 8pm Admission: €6/€5 conc.
Dir: Stephen Burke Ireland 2017 92 mins Cert: 15A
Starring: Martin McCann, Niamh McGrady, Elva Trill, Eileen Walsh, Barry Ward, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
Available from: February
The thriller chronicles the mass break-out in 1983 of 38 prisoners from the Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland.
The film focuses on Larry Marley (Love/Hate’s Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), the chief architect of the escape, who strikes up a complex friendship with Gordon (Barry Ward), a prison warden.
Stephen Burke’s film works as a tense, exciting drama – there’s plenty of twists, scheming and unlikely allegiances as the inmates put together a complex, risky plan. But this also is a powerful piece of historical storytelling, highlighting the complex morality of the Troubles and exploring the motivations & beliefs of the various factions who have to live or work in the prison.
Vaughan-Lawlor and Ward both do a superb job here, and Burke’s script gives both characters plenty of space to develop. Their relationship is a fascinating mix of mutual respect and inherent hostility. When we first meet Larry, he’s just finished a hunger strike, and finds himself increasingly conflicted about how best to regain his freedom. Gordon, meanwhile, has to cope with the personal strain of his dangerous career.
Both actors excel in communicating their character’s internal conflicts to the audience. The setpieces are impressively tight and exciting, but this is a film that’s just as confident in its quieter moments – in particular when the two lead performers are given an opportunity to share the screen.
The Maze escape remains one of the most dramatic chapters in modern Irish & British history. This confident, accomplished film does the story justice.