In New York, steering clear of Irish hangouts, Dowd gets a job washing dishes in a restaurant, where he falls in with some Guatemalan exiles led by Tulio (Alfred Molina), his sister Monica (Rosana Pastor) and hothead Paco (Jorge Sanz).
Emotionally fried by years of political activity, Dowd is determined not to take up any fresh causes. His first mistake is helping out a female junkie (Caroline Seymour), who promptly stabs him in the back for his pains. After being taken in by Tulio, Dowd makes his second — and biggest — mistake, falling for the sexy and passionate Monica.
Discovering the Guatemalan trio are planning to assassinate a CIA stooge, Ramon (Esteban Fernandez), who committed atrocities back in their homeland, Dowd offers his help to the clearly amateurish group so he and Monica can escape together. This “further gesture” is to have unexpected repercussions for all four.
Rea, who proposed the original idea for the film to Northern Irish scripter-writer Ronan Bennett, has a long pedigree in hangdog, bruised roles, and this one doesn’t add many fresh wrinkles. While Rea’s performance draws the movie’s broad emotional outline, most of the color is filled in by other players, especially Pastor (excellent in Ken Loach’s “Land and Freedom”), who supplies some Latin flash and warmth as Dowd’s committed lover, and Molina and Sanz as her colleagues, respectively tolerant and fiery.
Bennett’s script never goes far into the politics at play here, which basically serve as dressing for a commercial thriller that’s more about one man’s life choices than a diatribe on the rights and wrongs of terrorism. Helmer Robert Dornhelm, who shot the pic before his recent, klutzy Austrian comedy “The Unfish,” directs reliably, helped in the action sequences by John Keane’s propulsive music. Other tech credits are pro, with Andrzej Sekula’s lensing catching the hard light of wintry Gotham, where the production was based in January-February ’96. The Northern Irish scenes were shot in and around Dublin.