Film Review: “In the Land of Saints and Sinners”


  • Starring: Liam Neeson, Kerry Condon
  • Directed by: Robert Lorenz
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins
  • Prodigal Films Limited


Ever since 2008’s “Taken,” Northern Ireland native Liam Neeson has been a staple of action flicks. Now in his early 70s, he is still doing them but in the vein of tough characters who are starting to walk off into the sunset. He continues that trend with “In the Land of Saints and Sinners,” now available on streaming services, a marvelous work on his part in a film with a gripping, complex story brimming with tragedy.


Under the employ of local crime boss Robert McQue (Colm Meaney, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” TV series), Finbar Murphy (Neeson) is a World War II vet who made a living for many years as a contract killer, something he is quite good at. It is the era known as the Troubles, a violent conflict between loyalists and nationalists in Northern Ireland, and the bloodshed of a bombing gone terribly wrong spill into the peaceful village that Finbar lives in and uses as his base.


Four members of the Irish Republican Army, led by Doireann McCann (Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”), a ruthless, domineering personality, seek refuge in Finbar’s village to lay low and to make plans to launch more bombings. After his most recent killing, Finbar has decided to give up his life as a contract killer, much to McQue’s dismay and that of a younger protégé, Kevin Lynch (Jack Gleeson, “Game of Thrones”). However, his attempt to live a life of peaceful tranquility comes to a crashing halt after a violent encounter he has with Doireann’s volatile brother.


“Saints and Sinners” is one of Neeson’s best performances in recent memory. You can see the burden of what he has methodically been doing over the years on his face without him having to say a word. You can also see the longing in his eyes of wanting to live a different life, but in the end, he still does what must be done with grim determination. His interaction with Gleeson, who is perfect as a cocky young man with dreams of going to California, provides some great moments in the film as well.


Director Robert Lorenz (“Trouble with the Curve”) manages the story’s flow and pacing with good skill while setting its tragic circumstances against a beautiful Irish countryside backdrop. It would be fitting if it were to be the end of Neeson’s run as an action star.


Overall, “Saints and Sinners” is akin to an old Western with an aging gunslinger who just wants to be left alone but his past choices make that impossible.


“In the Land of Saints and Sinners” receives ★★★ out of five.


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