"Taut, extremely entertaining" (Leonard Maltin) and laden with suspense, this fast-moving chiller stars Gabriel Byrne as a Cold War reporter who discovers that free speech comes at a deadly price. Co-starring Greta Scacchi... more » and Denholm Elliott, Defense of the Realm is "electrifying, terrifying" and will leave you "limp from controlled tension" (Los Angeles Times)! When a tawdry sex scandal links a high-ranking British politician to a Russian KGB agent, ambitious newsman Nick Mullen (Byrne) swiftly gets the story on Page One. But when his scoop-of-the-decade begins to unravel the cover-up-of-the-century ¬? involving military secrets, nuclear weapons and government murders ¬? Mullen and the politician's beautiful secretary (Scacchi) finds themselves ensnared in a web of deadly intrigue¬...where every move could be their last!« less
"The showbiz adage of 'never work with children or animals' was, within the British film industry, extended to 'never work with children, animals or Denholm Elliot'. He was, rightly, labelled a 'scene stealer' and with his passing, one of the 'true stars' were lost.Gabrielle Byrne and Greta Scacchi star in this 1984 UK film, but the film, despite featuring a young Robbie Coltrane ( Cracker ), is forever Elliot's. Massively underrated, this film is a powerful indictment of the true 'powers that be'. Governments come and governments go, but the engine room remains in place, along with the stokers.Is this a political thriller, a journalistic thriller, a shadowy thriller even - scary too, maybe ?. Probably all and more besides. It's very taut, very fast, very complex and, perhaps, very true to life ( the scary bit ). Underhand and double dealing are rife and little mercy is shown to the designated stooges. Elliot, as Vernon Bayliss, suffers no fools here and realising the enormity of the truth and confiding in nobody, pays a heavy price for his refusal to be swept along with the tide of seemingly incontrovertible proofs. Perhaps Fox Mulder saw this film and coined 'trust no-one' from Elliots' performance.What is sure, though, is that a field day awaits conspiracy theorists who watch this. There is no sex, no violence and no profanity and I defy anyone to watch this film only once."
One you missed at the theatre.
Phil Watkins | Kansas City, MO USA | 12/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Saw this little gem when it originally was released theatrically. Needless to say, I was impressed.Starring a terrific Gabriel Byrne (does this guy ever age?), it is a very tight story of a newspaper reporter (Byrne) who comes across a story of a Member of Parliament having an affair with a prostitute, who is also seeing a KGB agent.But things are much more complex than they initially appear, and it becomes a much thicker paranoia thiller (one of my favourite themes). If you liked "The Parallax View" (1974) - or favour conspiracy theories - then you'll like this very British effort.Watch for the gaggle of reporters camped on the Minister's doorstep. Durning the scene, a car backs into one of the reports, knocking him down. It is never explained...The DVD transfer is exceptional, though in typical MGM fashion, there are no extras except for the original trailer."
Defense of the Realm
Richard Cunningham | United States | 12/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Overlooked. Something of a quiet sensation when it came out in the mid 1980's. Starring Gabriel Byrne(in his first lead role), Greta Scacchi, and Denholm Elliot. The script could have been written by John Le Carre. A complex, claustrophobic, dark, fast-paced film which requires alertness on the part of the audience."
A thinking person's movie
cmc | Mexico D.F. Mexico | 11/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fast moving all too credible movie showing dealing with the issue of press freedom versus what should be considered secrets of the state.
Great casting. This is a gem that is surprisingly little known."
Thriller from Over the Sea
Movie Mania | Southern Calfornia | 12/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Defense of the Realm is a very interesting movie about the British government and the extent they will go to protect it. Nick Mullen (Gabriel Byrne) is an investigative reporter that has stumbled onto a scandal that could rock the government. When the story unravels to a bigger scandal, his life becomes in danger.
I always am skeptical of these types of film but something about this has a ring of authenticity. Gabriel Byrne always has an intensity about him. In this film he rises to a new height. Greta Scacchi is great as the politician's secretary that gets involved with Byrne.
This film will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.