Fifty Dead Men Walking

Critics Consensus

Though somewhat uneven in places, Fifty Dead Men Walking is a gripping portrayal of Ireland's violent history, carried by the strong performances of its lead actors.



Total Count: 52


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,651
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Movie Info

Set in Belfast in 1980 where the Irish Republican Army is waging an all-out insurgent war against the British occupation, Martin McGartland is a young small-time Belfast hustler recruited by a wily British intelligence agent to infiltrate the IRA. Martin quickly uses his natural instincts as a con man to get inside the IRA and starts feeding information to the British, saving hundreds of lives in the process. But with each successful mission, Martin becomes increasingly in danger of being caught and exposed. The IRA is ruthless, and once an infiltrator has been exposed he becomes a "dead man walking." As Martin becomes consumed by his double life, and his British handlers threaten to sell him out if he refuses to continue his counter-intelligence work, he is plunged into a dangerous game in which the stakes could not be higher.


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Critic Reviews for Fifty Dead Men Walking

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (9)

  • Jim Sturgess makes a believable cocky lad who signs on for the con; an oddly bewigged Ben Kingsley is fussier and too actorly as his handler.

    Aug 26, 2009 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • Skogland is a crisp and efficient storyteller. She keeps the players vivid and relatively honest, and never shies away from the brutalities.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: 3/4
  • Sturgess is solid and Kingsley predictably sneaky, but the atmosphere -- scurries through the Catholic/Protestant border, tense stand-offs, spontaneous riots -- is what's genuinely gripping.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A streamlined, adrenalized thriller that is not as deep as it would like to appear, treads a retrospective political tightrope.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: 4/5
  • Fifty Dead Men Walking provides another example of what happens when mediocre moviemaking meets an interesting life.

    Aug 20, 2009 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • What makes Fifty Dead Men work is the story's sheer moral complexity, which dares viewers to sympathize with anyone onscreen for more than a few minutes at a time.

    Aug 20, 2009 | Rating: B

    Tasha Robinson

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Fifty Dead Men Walking

  • Oct 31, 2013
    Delving into a true life story of an IRA infiltration, "Fifty Dead Men Walking" is well acted and mostly engaging, but does little to differentiate itself from any of the film's in its genre. Unless this subject matter thoroughly interests you or unless you're die hard fans of Jim Sturgess or Ben Kingsley, chances are this film will be a little to politically charged to hold your attention. Although Sturgess and Kingsley are both at the top of their games in these roles, the script never quite catches up to them. The story does take some appreciated turns however, including Martin's (Sturgess) devotion to his baby's mother Lara (Natalie Press), even when presented with the distraction of Grace, played by the rather surprising Rose McGowan, who captivates in a way unseen in over a decade. Never quite finding its voice and never quite rising above a crime drama, "Fifty Dead Men Walking" is rather predictable, leaving little room for suspense or even a curiosity for what happens next.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 15, 2012
    The only other outing I've seen from Kari Skogland is the reprehensible "Men With Guns" and "Fifty Dead Men Walking" is the better of the two. Skogland is good at directing action and even though "Fifty Dead Men Walking" may sometimes be messy and uneven in terms of storyline, it's always visceral and entertaining. Plus, Jim Sturgess is very good.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Jul 21, 2011
    A story based on real events in Ireland's history, 50 Dead Men Walking is a brutal and gritty tale of Martin McGartland and his heroic actions that led to saving dozens of lives. The film is rather bleak and void of bright colors, which suit the film but it is still wonderfully lensed. There are some moments that you may wonder what is happening and the story tries to implant several events quickly, but overall it is an all around well paced film. Recommended only if you can handle torture and other violent acts for the good of a country at war.
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 11, 2011
    A decent thriller based on a true story of a member of the IRA who passed information on the the British special service. I don't think it helped that I didn't know what the film was about and it took about 20mins into the film to get a good idea of what was going on. It's well acted and an interesting story especially as based on real events. However the isn't a great deal of action and it is a little long as well. ok but not great.
    Dean K Super Reviewer

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