R: June 30th, 2017 | R: 95 minutes | R: PG-13
Johnathan Jimenez's Review.
A movie centered on the final resolution of “The Troubles” – the brutal conflict in Northern Ireland – ends up suffering from its own troubles. The title of The Journey may inspire images of an exciting, epic trip, but unfortunately there is little excitement to be found in this political drama.
Hoping to solidify the end of The Troubles and to reunite Northern Ireland, The Journey centers around the real-life story of Ian Paisley, a stubborn and fiery evangelical protestant preacher adamant against making any concessions for anti-United Kingdom demonstrators, and Martin McGuinness, a radical supporter of the Irish reunification movement and former leader in the Irish Republican Party. On the verge of reaching a resolution for joint leadership, Martin McGuinness volunteers to join Ian Paisley on a road trip. Despite the two formerly refusing to speak to one another, the two must endure a several hour long trip in order to reconcile what makes them different and discover what similarities they share.
For fans of historical political dramas like The Iron Lady, Argo, or Charlie Wilson’s War, The Journey falls far short of its potential. A movie revolving around the barbaric yet long-lasting explosive Northern Irish conflict offers plenty of material for a riveting and compelling film. Yet instead of delving into the backgrounds of two complex leaders or even into the background of The Troubles, this biopic instead opts to confine itself to the back of a van for the entire duration of the film.
In addition to feeling claustrophobic, The Journey lacks the material to carry an hour and a half film. The motivations of the characters are established quickly, leaving the rest of the film to just focus on a very slow-moving conversation between two politicians. Yet even as the film was on the verge of a dramatic moment, the conversation would turn into a less-interest subplot that sought to humanize and deepen the characters but that unintentionally removed any true drama. The film confined itself into a small space and it had difficulty trying to break itself out of its own limits. Without its self-imposed constraints, there may have been a much more compelling and comprehensive film as it explored the characters’ histories and the history of the nation as a whole. In essence, The Journey suffers from not abiding by the age-old rule of show not tell.
History offers rich storylines, complex characters, and a channel to inform its audience of world- changing events. Sadly, The Journey seems like a superficial and slow look into a major event in world history. To truly appreciate the events of the film, it would probably be more beneficial to read about it in a history book as The Journey does not truly capture the essence and drama of the events as they actually occurred.
Rating: 2 out of 5