Movie Review: ‘THE JOURNEY’ shows great performances, but packs light

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Jared McMillan // Film Critic

THE JOURNEY
Rated PG-13, 94 minutes.
Director: Nick Hamm
Cast: Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, John HurtCatherine McCormackFreddie Highmore and Ian McElhinney

In 2006, talks between sworn enemies Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuiness and the Democratic Party’s Rev. Ian Paisley led to peace in Northern Ireland after decades of turmoil. After the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement, Paisley became First Minister and McGuiness became Deputy First Minister…they also became great allies. How did these two men, who greatly despised each other, bury the hatchet so well that it led to Northern Ireland’s peace? It had to have been a long and arduous journey to get to that point. Nick Hamm’s THE JOURNEY would like to imagine that it was some formulaic road trip full of piss and vinegar, but subsides after a few events to open their eyes to each other. Seriously. The movie itself begins with a title card that says, “THIS STORY IMAGINES THAT JOURNEY.”

The film begins with Paisley (Timothy Spall) needing a ride to the airport to fly to Belfast for his 50th wedding anniversary. McGuiness (Colm Meaney) finds out about it, and stages it so he must take the same car to the airport. The UK’s top brass, which include Tony Blair (Toby Stephens) and Harry Patterson (John Hurt, in one of his last roles), decide they need to plant someone on the inside to make them fall in love come to an agreement. They enlist Jack (Freddie Highmore) to be the driver, while small cameras are hidden in the car so they can have eyes on the situation as they make their way to the airport.

There are strong performances here between Spall, Meaney, and Highmore, especially Spall. But they don’t outweigh the decision-making that makes THE JOURNEY such a mess. It’s hard to balance the flashbacks of IRA bombings and the n’er-do-well attitude of a warm buddy comedy. Also, showing Parliament having some control in the situation of Northern Ireland’s peace undermines the actual work of Paisley and McGuiness. The creators of this movie might have meant well, but this story should have been a different journey.

Grade: D

THE JOURNEY is now playing in limited release. Dallas-Fort Worth: Angelika Film Center in Dallas.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.