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June 20, 2010
Fifty Dead Men Walking Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
None4/5/2010Village RoadshowKari Skogland
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MA15+Ben Kingsley

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Martin McGartland officially joins the IRA.

Living in Australia the fights between the IRA and English forces isn't a conflict I am too knowledgeable about however I get the general idea. This movie is based on a real life person who turned against the IRA and in doing so reportedly saved around fifty people - hence the title. It looked interesting, so looking at this title is what we did.

Based on Martin McGartland's shocking real life story. Martin is a young lad from west Belfast in the late 1980s who is recruited by the British Police to spy on the IRA. He works his way up the ranks as a volunteer for the IRA whilst feeding information to his British handler and saving lives in the process.

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This film is based around the IRA war.
As someone living in Australia I really do enjoy watching movies such as this which tell the story of one of the most tumultuous periods of another countries history. Some of the scenes are downright disturbing, not in a gory sort of way, but the way in which humans can treat each other for the simple reason of differences in religious or political beliefs. Ultimately the performances are a little stale, although Ben Kingsley puts in a fine performance.

Ultimately Fifty Dead Men wasn't a movie which I can really recommend unless you have a keen interest in the subject matter. For me, it was a bit of a chore to watch despite the occasional solid acting from Ben Kingsley while the small role for Rose McGowan is somewhat surprising too. Of course this movie centers around the role of Martin played by Jim Sturgess and he does a pretty decent job. One main issue we have with this movie is the thick Irish accents which are, at times, hard to understand.

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Jim Sturgess and Rose McGowan in Fifty Dead Men Walking.
Fifty Dead Men Walking certainly isn't the brightest, most colourful movie ever shot, and this is indeed a rather dark, murky film for the most part. The transfer is encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and is presented at 1.78:1 which will fill your HDTV. The image is fairly clean, but isn't the sharpest, most impressive looking Blu-Ray released to date. We noticed some black crush, and contrast levels are at times a little off (take the hospital scene - albeit deliberate, but off putting nonetheless).

Perhaps with a bigger budget, better lighting (although they may have wanted to recreate real-life lighting), or a higher bitrate this transfer could have impressed further. As it stands, it's good, but not great.

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Ben Kingsley in Fifty Dead Men Walking.
While the movie was OK and the video passable I didn't have the same feelings with the audio. The primary English track is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (16-bit/48Khz) however due to the thick Irish accents in this film which makes some of the dialogue hard to understand but the biggest problem is that the music is often so loud that the dialogue becomes lost and muddled. Still it does have some great moments including the riots which place you in the middle of battle.

The only other audio track on this is a Dolby Digital 2.0 English Descriptive Audio track encoded at 192kbps while there is only a single descriptive subtitle track which gets the job done as expected.

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Getting some answers, with a gun!
Sadly despite the subject matter the only extra on this disc is a handful of deleted scenes.

Deleted Scenes (8:41): Here we have a series of twelve deleted scenes, some of which are quite interesting and could have been included in the film, although the 2 hour runtime was already stretching it in parts. Nice to have them on the disc.

Fifty Dead Men isn't a bad movie, it's just not a great one either. There are some interesting moments, but the greatest enjoyment from this title comes from the knowledge that it's based on a true story.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.