Clive Owen is an almost too-obvious choice for the part of an M-15 agent who very matter-of-factly tells an Irish terrorist in James Marsh’s new film that she can either spend her life in jail or work for him as a double agent. There’s something just naturally intellectual and sinister about Owen, yet he’s always cast as someone who extracts from others what they don’t want to do. Why is he so convincing to the reluctant?
A plot to bomb London is foiled in 1993. The suspected bomber, Collette, is told she will either spend 25 years in jail or she will have to work for the M-15 agent Mac (Owen) as a double agent who spies on her own family. Her family has a long history of anti-British sentiment and activity given that her younger brother was killed by the British in 1973 during a bloody shootout.
Collette chooses to spy on her family, but naturally her loyalties are torn, especially when she’s put to the test by Mac by becoming embroiled in an assassination plot against a Northern Irish official. The movie soon becomes an exposition on a family that suspects its members of plotting with its sworn enemies.
The movie works well for the most part, though some may find it a bit slow paced until the inevitable car bombs, gun shots, and street massacres begin to unfold. More than anything, it gives a lucid portrayal on one of the most contentious (and unresolved) political battles of modern times.