Academy AwardÂ(r) winner* Frances McDormand (Fargo) and Brian Cox (Rob Roy) confront danger and deception at every turn in this "chilling, explosive" (The New York Times)story set in strife-torn Northern Ireland. Winner of... more » the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Hidden Agenda is a "taut political thriller" (The Hollywood Reporter) that "makes the unthinkable seem all too plausible" (The Washington Post). American activists Paul Sullivan (Brad Dourif) and his fiancĂ(c)e Ingrid Jessner (McDormand) journey to Belfast to probe allegations of brutal human rights abuses by British security forces. When Paul is killed under mysterious circumstances, the official reports list him as an I.R.A. accomplice. But Ingrid and British policeman Paul Kerrigan (Cox) question the findings and begin to uncover a shocking high-level conspiracy. Now, with their safety in jeopardy, they must decide whether to risk everything to reveal the truth. *1996: Actress« less
"Since Frances Normand's boyfriend is murdered by british forces in North Ireland , she decides to investigate this weird murder , she plays the role of an American human rights activist .
A punch in the middle of the face , because it concerns about a conspiracy , cover up and ambush policial, inspired by similar events in 1980 .
Filmed in documental mood for Ken Loach. Briiliant performances of Frances Mc Dormand and Brian Cox.
One of my favorites political thrillers of the nineties."
Should you trust any government?
Terry Fisher | Phoenix, AZ United States | 05/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charles deGaulle once observed, "The State is a cold-blooded animal. Often even to it's own people. It must be so in order to survive." This movie is about British agents operating in Ireland to quash any IRA resistance to British rule, by any means necessary and any means possible. To give some semblance of respectability to the investigation of the murder of a U.S. citizen who was in the company of an IRA agent when he was assassinated the British secret police employ a fairmined and respected investigator who really believes he is charged with the responsibility of finding the truth. The closer he gets to the truth the more pressure the secret police put on him to back away. First they use blackmail, then threats to his own life. He is forced at last to betray everyone he has made promises to and return to England without a shread of respectibility. The secret police continue business as usual and set about arresting everyone whose confidence he has gained.
This is a film noir that takes a back seat to none. Be prepared to be angry, depressed and paranoid at the end. Not for the weak in spirit."
Superior political thriller
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 10/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ken Loach's Hidden Agenda is likely one of the best political thrillers ever made on the troubles in Northern Ireland. The characters are full and rich; the violence is real; and the political cover-ups and corruption are rife. The acting is solid, the plotting is very strong, and the pace of the film is perfect.
In particular, drawing in not only the Northern Irish, but also the British and the Americans into the story was a truly inspired move. An American lawyer who fights for civil rights throughout the world is murdered by the Northern Irish police under orders from a high level official and all hell breaks loose. Unlike the flimsy, paltry political cover-ups seen in the film "Defense of the Realm" where there are no characters worth caring about, here Brad Dourif as the lawyer, Frances McDormand as his activist girlfriend and especially Brian Cox as the fiercely driven British police officer committed to uncovering the truth make a solid impression on the viewer.
Known for his politically charged films, director Ken Loach here never takes a false step. Cox's character, Peter Kerrigan, relentlessly pursues the truth of the backstory behind the murder of the American lawyer and it's really gripping to watch how things unfold.
This is a first class thriller, one of the best in its class. Very highly recommended."
John Farr | 09/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A taut, intelligent nail-biter that pulls in the audience fast and never lets go, thanks to a lean, plausible script and intense performances from Mc Dormand, Cox, and Dourif, all brilliant players when armed with solid material like this. An overlooked winner. Hang on."
Terrorism in Ulster
Acute Observer | Jersey Shore USA | 01/12/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The film opens with a scenic shot of the shores of Ireland. Then a march down a city street. The police and army are patrolling behind the crowds. Then we see investigators questioning a suspect who was beaten and tortured by the authorities. They hold a press conference to announce their findings. Other reporters question them about allegations of a "shoot to kill" policy that targeted innocent civilians. The killing and torture in the Six Counties remind one reporter of Chile after their coup. But Northern Ireland isn't quite like Chile, is it? One of the reporters makes a call to get more information. He meets a man, and their car is ambushed; they are both murdered. The official news is that they refused to stop for a police checkpoint.
The British send their top police detective to re-examine the evidence that led to the shooting of Paul Sullivan and Frank Malloy. The ballistics show Sullivan was shot at 2 meters, not from far away. Something's wrong here. Mr. Kerrigan talks to Ingrid Jensen, the close friend of Sullivan, who tells about what she knows. They talk to the widow of Frank Malloy. When they question one of the police officers, and he tells them what really happened. Superintendent Frazier told them what to say. Frazier was merely following orders from higher authorities - a Mr. Brody. Kerrigan can't get the missing tape. At a club Kerrigan is told about the other colonies that had to fight for their freedom from English rule. Kerrigan meets a former British officer, Captain Harris, who worked in Psychological Operations - Black Propaganda to manipulate public opinion. The CIA and MI5 spread rumors to defeat the Labor government; this benefited the election of Margaret Thatcher. [Was she a puppet?] Kerrigan will meet him again in Dublin to get the tape that will expose the plot.
There were disorders in England in the early 1970s that led to the fall of the Conservative government. Two powerful politicians, smug, sleek, and smiling, tell Kerrigan why the means used to uphold the government are justified; they say so. One shows Kerrigan photographs of him and Ingrid that can create a scandal. The pressure is on for him to drop the investigation. Captain Harris hands over the tape to Ingrid Jensen. After this he is abducted from a busy street in daylight and thrown into a waiting van. We later hear he was found murdered, and the IRA is blamed. Another propaganda trick? Career policeman Kerrigan returns to England. The low-level agents will take the blame. The status quo is maintained.
The slow pace of this film reminds me of "All the President's Men" but without the happy ending. It will educate you about the troubles in Ulster. Do these dirty tricks only occur in Ulster? Note how very little of this news is ever reported in America. "