In the Land of Saints and Sinners (2024) Movie Review – Is this Liam Neeson movie worth a watch?

Is this Liam Neeson movie worth a watch?

Liam Neeson has a special set of skills. You’ll know this after seeing him in the Taken movies, where he began his late-in-the-day career as an ageing action hero.

Unfortunately, various directors have tried to capitalize on Neeson’s new career image by casting him in movie roles that are fairly indistinguishable from one another. Sadly, many of these movies have been downright awful, with Blacklight, Marlowe, and Retribution being some of the worst. 

So, what about In the Land of Saints and Sinners? Is this Liam Neeson movie worth a watch? Or is it another time-waster?

In the Land of Saints and Sinners Movie Review

Here’s the good news – In the Land of Saints and Sinners is not as bad as those movies we listed as Liam Neeson’s worst. However, it’s not a particularly exciting movie either, as there are only a handful of moments that threaten to get our pulses racing.

As such, this isn’t quite as thrilling as the first Taken movie but at least it’s not as mind-numbingly predictable as Blacklight and the other cheap action flicks the Phantom Menace star has acted in this last few years. 

The movie is set in Ireland in the 1970s, at a time when the IRA used terror tactics to bring an end to British rule. In the tense opening scene, we meet Doireann McCann (Kerry Condon), an IRA member, who has set up a bomb in a Belfast pub.

After the inevitable explosion, which is horrifying to behold, albeit very well filmed, she and her crew head for the small Irish village of Gleann Colm Cille, in Donegal, which is where her brother Curtis had last been seen. She investigates his disappearance and discovers it has something to do with Finbar Murphy, a village resident posing as a bookseller but who in reality is a contract killer for a local crime boss. 

Finbar is responsible for killing Curtis, for reasons that we won’t spoil here. When he realizes she is looking for him, he arranges a meeting, leading to a violent confrontation that rocks the quiet life of the village. 

In the Land of Saints and Sinners is directed by Robert Lorenz, who previously collaborated with Neeson on The Marksman. That movie didn’t break new ground but like Neeson’s latest, it was an average piece of work rather than being a disaster. 

With his new film, Lorenz manages to coax good performances out of his cast, which includes Jack Gleeson, Ciaran Hinds, and Colm Meaney, as well as Neeson and Condon. 

Jack Gleeson is particularly good as an up-and-coming hitman who teams up with Finbar. He’s almost unrecognizable with his dark hair and moustache but he still manages to evoke a few chills as the killer who is only slightly less devious than Joffrey Baratheon, the villainous character he played in Game of Thrones.

Without the bursts of action, the film almost plays like a rural British soap opera with its gentle village folk and beautiful shots of surrounding greenery. But once you see Neeson loading a body into his car and Condon glowering menacingly at anybody who crosses her path, you’ll realize that, yep, this is thriller territory and not a warm-hearted series about country folk who sing at the drop of a hat at the local village pub.

The script by Mark Michael McNally and Terry Loane is more intelligent than the (presumed) napkin-written screenplays of some of Neeson’s more recent films. The IRA subplot is sensitively handled and there are a few touching moments as Finbar reflects on his life after coming to terms with his turbulent past. He’s not unlike one of the ageing anti-heroes Clint Eastwood played late in his career, although, despite the halfway decent backstory for Finbar, the final film doesn’t quite make our day.

In the Lands of Saints and Sinners is more thoughtful than the typical Neeson action flick but it’s not particularly memorable. Whether you like it will depend on whether or not you’re expecting plenty of high-octane action. If you are, you will be treated to a decent climactic showdown. But for the most part, this is a quieter, more subdued film than some of Neeson’s more explosive actioners, so you might want to lower your expectations a little.

So, is it worth a watch? For a one-time viewing, it’s certainly passable. But Neeson is a much better dramatic actor than he is an action star. So, while In the Land of Saints and Sinners isn’t awful, it might be time for him to return to acting roles that let us see what he’s truly capable of as a performer. 


Read More: In the Land of Saint and Sinners Ending Explained

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  • - 6/10

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