A boy-and-his-hoss family pic that takes free rein with history, “Shergar” is OK fare for rental and afternoon-TV markets. Based on the IRA’s (unsolved) horsenapping of a Derby winner in 1983, smoothly paced, lightly dramatic movie starts like a reconstruction of the real event and develops into a fanciful kids’ yarn, with an above-average performance by Ian Holm in the second half and a weird cameo by Mickey Rourke as a thickly accented, mumbling terrorist.
Datelined opening shows the theft of the titular equine and its secretion at a farm run by Garritty (David Warner), a borderline sympathizer. When the Irish authorities, nudged by the Brits, refuse to pay the £5 million ransom, O’Rourke (Rourke) orders his ruthless deputy (Andrew Connolly, good) to shoot the animal. But said steed escapes with stableboy Kevin (Tim Walsh), a reform-school runaway, who’s befriended by a tinker (Holm) and his granddaughter (Laura Murphy). Holm and Murphy bring natural charm to whimsical roles, and lotsa sequences of Kevin riding across the landscape to John Scott’s stirring music will please horse-mad moppets. The Isle of Man doubles convincingly for southern Ireland. Pic was shot in 1998.