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Pursuit Review

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With Pursuit, writer/director Paul Mercier takes Irish folklore, specifically The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne, and gives it a contemporary spin by taking all the elements of those fanciful stories and building a gangster movie around them. Fionn McCool (Liam Cunningham) is now the aging lieutenant in the gang of Mr. King (Owen Roe), marked for death because he is fast outliving his usefulness. As means of preserving his place by his boss' side, a marriage is arranged between Fionn and King’s much younger daughter, Grannie (Ruth Bradley), but Grannie has other ideas. Wanting to get as far away from her family and new husband as possible, she forces Fionn’s bodyguard Diarmuid (Barry Ward) to run away with her, putting a price on both their heads.

Despite the contemporary setting, Pursuit leans quite heavily on the stories that inspired it, with the mythology seeping into every aspect of the story, from names of characters to certain customs and locations. Everything is weaved in quite cleverly, and helps the movie stand out from the typical crime thriller mould. Mercier has crafted some compelling dialogue that lends an almost a theatre quality to some scenes, which isn’t surprising since a lot of cast and crew come from a theatre background. Cunningham does a good job as the proud yet fragile Fionn, beginning the movie seemingly as our hero before morphing into a truly hateful villain. he really does give it is all, and for the most part the rest of the cast step up, especially Ward and Bradley as the would be lovers. They play off each other extremely well, but its Bradley’s manic Grannie who ends up stealing the show out from under Ward’s stoic and loyal Diarmuid.

It doesn’t take long for the action to kick into high gear, but once the main plot is set in motion the narrative starts spinning its wheels, with too many detours to and side plots slowing the pace way down. There is far too much information just thrown at the audience, such as Grannie and Diarmuid’s history together, too late in the story to have any real impact, and it seriously hurts the movie going forward. It’s a shame as Mercier does deliver some truly great moments, especially a unique car chase/conference call that serves as a satisfyingly different finale.

A much leaner story would have helped Pursuit immensely, but it’s still an intriguing and admirable well executed idea.






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The Movie Bit: Pursuit Review
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