July 2, 2019  (Web Review)


Lightyear, 93 min., not rated, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $24.99, June 25

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Revisiting the years of Irish Republican Army violence and the brutal incarceration of IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland prisons, this fact-based drama is more psychological thriller than bloody tale of internecine warfare behind bars fought between pro-Ireland-reunification Catholics and pro-British-rule Protestants. Inspired by a 1983 breakout from the notorious Maze penitentiary, the story finds IRA prisoner Larry Marley (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor)—bent on retaliating for the deaths of 10 hunger strikers—secretly organizing an escape that could free scores of inmates. Getting some of the crucial information he needs about the building’s complicated structure requires Marley to earn the confidence of an unsuspecting guard, and he chooses the conflicted Gordon (Barry Ward), whose wife and daughter have moved to London following a failed attack by an IRA assassin. Writer-director Stephen Burke paints a grim picture of tensions within a cell block harboring both Catholics and Protestants, but for the most part he focuses on Marley’s delicate efforts to get inside the head of a vulnerable, if slightly suspicious, Gordon. An impressive effort that is quite different from harsh prison movies, this is recommended. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by director Stephen Burke, and Burke’s 1997 short film “81” (29 min.). Bottom line: a solid extras package for this engaging drama.] (T. Keogh)