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Five Minutes of Heaven

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United Kingdom, Ireland · 2009
Rated R · 1h 29m
Director Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt, Anamaria Marinca, Mark Ryder
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller

In 1970s Northern Ireland, young Joe Griffin watches in horror as the teenage leader of a UVF cell shoots his brother dead. Thirty years later, Joe plans to meet his brother's killer, Alistair Little, on live TV. Unbeknownst to the TV crew, Joe is not there to reconcile with Alistair but to kill him.

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Village Voice by

The production design is spot-on, but Hirschbiegel tries way too hard to create tension, making every occurrence--a record needle dropping, a car door slamming--an unsubtle potential bomb, fraying your nerves like a cheap horror movie.


Salon by Andrew O'Hehir

Captures the awful intimacy and the grimy, second-rate quality of the Northern Ireland conflict in resonant fashion.


Time Out by David Fear

When violence eventually rears its ugly head again, the effect is as anticlimactic as the movie’s title is misleading. Brief bliss is a red herring; there’s only a lifetime of pain left in such acts’ wakes.


Variety by Dennis Harvey

Powerhouse performances by Liam Neeson and James Nesbit make this an intense, ultimately moving tale.


New York Daily News by Joe Neumaier

Early scenes set up the tragedy, but the majority of Oliver Hirschbiegel's movie is set in a TV studio where the two eventually face each other, and the tension, unfortunately, quickly becomes stagey.


New York Post by Lou Lumenick

The title of the overlong Fifty Dead Men Walking refers to lives saved by Sturgess' character, who is still in hiding years later.


The New York Times by Manohla Dargis

A feature-length talkathon built on a sketchy premise, some unpersuasive psychology, a pinch of politics and strong star turns from Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt, the appeal of all those words runs out long before the director Oliver Hirschbiegel turns off the spigot.

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