Defence of the Realm (Defense of the Realm) (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Defence of the Realm (Defense of the Realm) (1985)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This fast-paced thriller examines the amorality of a nation's secret services and the responsibility of journalistic investigations in an era of nuclear tensions and bureaucratic deceit. The film examines an unspooling series of events occurring after a near crash of a nuclear bomber at an American Air Force base in the English countryside. When Dennis Markham (Ian Bannen), a well-respected member of Parliament, is reported by a London paper to have been seen leaving a woman's home, and the woman is found to also be familiar with a dignitary from East Germany, his loyalty to his country is questioned, and he is forced to resign. The author of the newspaper exposé, Nick Mullen (Gabriel Byrne), continues his investigation with his colleague Vernon Bayliss (Denholm Elliott). But when Vernon dies from a mysterious heart attack, Mullen suspects something deeper at work and finds evidence of a complex web of deceit concerning a secret Air Force base. With the help of Vernon's secretary, Nina Beckman (Greta Scacchi), Nick fights the dark forces in order to bring the truth to light.
PG (adult situations/language, violence)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Nelson Entertainment

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Gabriel Byrne
as Nicholas 'Nick' Mullen
Denholm Elliott
as Vernon Bayliss
Greta Scacchi
as Nina Beckman
Ian Bannen
as Dennis Markham
Fulton Mackay
as Victor Kingsbrook
Bill Paterson
as Jack Macleod
David Calder
as Harry Champion
Frederick Treves
as Arnold Reece
Robbie Coltrane
as Leo McAskey
Annabel Leventon
as Trudy Markham
Prentis Hancock
as Frank Longman
Michael Johnson
as Humphrey Channing
Mark Tandy
as Philip Henderson
Daniel Webb
as Danny Royce
William Job
as Hilton
Oliver Ford Davies
as Anthony Clegg
Daniel Benzali
as Lt. Col. Lehane
Graham Fletcher-Cook
as Micky Parker
Steven Woodcock
as Steve Dyce
Beverley Anderson
as Newscaster
Harriet Bagnall
as Peace Girl
John Challis
as Challis
Alexei Jawdokimov
as Dietrich Kleist
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Critic Reviews for Defence of the Realm (Defense of the Realm)

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Mostly pleasing old-fashioned political thriller.

Full Review… | October 5, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

There are marvelous performances by several British character actors, especially Denholm Elliott and Ian Bannen, and feelings of nerve-racking paranoia are evoked as a reporter, played by Gabriel Byrne, uncovers unexpected motives while investigating a Ca

June 14, 2007

Audience Reviews for Defence of the Realm (Defense of the Realm)


Defense of the Realm is a difficult movie to follow, especially for the first 20 minutes or so. There is so much background noise which makes it difficult to hear the leading characters, and at the beginning, you don't really who which characters are important either. Adding to the incomprehensibility is the mumbling diction of Denholm Elliott and Bill Forsyth. Eventually, I became very intrigued by the plot's suspense. The movie shows a newspaper reporter played by Gabriel Byrne who picks up the trail of a cover-up plot, but by whom and what it is that is being covered up remain fuzzy. He is interrogated by some sort of "spooks" at MI-something or other with no legal rights whatsoever. Unfortunately, all this big suspense leads up to an insufficient event to warrant this much covering-up. We are really never told exactly what it is that happened, just given innuendos to make us think this is a really BIG deal! The ending is completely unsatisfying. There is no depth of characterization, just a lot of suspicion, of the sort designed to make the public distrustful of their government officials. The whole thing seemed like a paranoid piece of fluff, despite the presence of so many excellent British actors/actresses.

Frances Ann Ade
Frances Ann Ade

Pretty slow-moving, but the payoff is worth it. I imagine this film would be more captivating in 1980s Britain.

David Underwood
David Underwood

"Defense of the Realm" ends on a bleak and cynical note - unless you count the somewhat contrived epilogue - and gets there with intelligence and a sharp, bitter edge.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

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