Hidden Agenda


Action / Drama / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 83%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 75%
IMDb Rating 7 10 2938


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October 15, 2015 at 12:30 AM



Frances McDormand as Ingrid Jessner
Brad Dourif as Paul Sullivan
Michelle Fairley as Teresa Doyle
Brian Cox as Kerrigan
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
813.25 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 48 min
P/S 1 / 8
1.65 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 48 min
P/S 3 / 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 6 / 10

All bluster, but no action!

Another disappointing entry, this time in the fictionalized political thriller genre, is Hidden Agenda (1990), which poses questions it fails to deal with, let alone answer, and also goes overboard to work up audience interest in the main characters only to reveal at the end that most of them don't deserve our attention.

In addition to this parade of characters, who start off looking and seeming sympathetic, but actually have feet of clay after all, Ken Loach's boring and superficial TV-style direction with its constant emphasis on Look Back in Anger dialogue exchanges, certainly does not help.

Worse still, particularly grating is the leading male protagonist who is all bluster but absolutely no action.

The only good note, so far as "Hidden Agenda" is concerned, is that the technical quality of the M-G-M DVD rates 10/10.

Reviewed by lasttimeisaw 8 / 10

Mr. Loach masterfully forces us to face a most inconvenient truth with his highly matter-of-fact modality, and its repercussions are here to stay

Ken Loach's controversial Cannes entry in 1990, which won him the Jury Prize, HIDDEN AGENDA is a faction political thriller sets in a powder keg Belfast during the Northern Ireland Troubles.

An American civil rights lawyer Paul Sullivan (Dourif) is crassly murdered along with a Provisional IRA sympathizer by British security force en route to a covert meeting with his secret source, a mysterious Captain Harris (Roƫves). Paul's aggrieved girlfriend and colleague, Ingrid Jessner (McDormand), remains in Belfast to seek out the truth, and soon is assisted by the righteous police detective Peter Kerrigan (Cox), designated by the Great Britain to lead the investigation.

Congruent with Loach's rigid, anti-sensational stock-in-trade, HIDDEN AGENDA is, paraphrasing its closing quote from James Miller, a former MI5 agent, "like the layers of an onion, the more you peel them away, the more you feel like crying", a somber police procedural strenuously resorting in verbal sparring to piece together the jigsaw of a conspiracy theory which implicates some insidious maneuvers from UK's Conservative party with regard to Margaret Thatcher's rise to power, then poignantly shades into a hammer blow to those who uphold an idealist view on political subterfuges. At least for once, it is not the usual suspects of IRA who are in the receiving end of the diatribe, but the whole rotten democratic polity of the Great Britain, iniquity operated by the powers that be and they are not ashamed, because they cannot be touched. In Loach's all-fired persistence, the reveal (not so shocking to those who are world-weary or cynical), resounds with a cauldron of self-defeat, angst, exasperation and disillusionment.

As a pacy thriller, Loach circumspectly orchestrates a fringe approach to downplay all the suspense usually default in the genre (no bombastic car-chasing, fistfight or firefight). The truth- seeking process is intriguingly hard-hitting and hardly impeded by any red herrings or devious plotting (a secret tape is the McGuffin), the resistance is brazenly from the bureaucratic backscratching among top brass by way of face-to-face hectoring (a bumptious Jim Norton is a standout among the squadron of supporting players as the head of the constabulary Mr. Brodie) and Brian Cox is redoubtable as a stout rock refusing to budge from mounting pressure, which makes his powerlessness and concession all the more telling in the coda. Yet, in a pivotal scene with Harris, one can manifestly sense his contempt for the latter, whom he summarily deems as a traitor seeking refuge from IRA, no one can conduct disinterestedly where hardened bias and congenital patriotism can penetrate through one's head as easy as falling off a log.

Kerrigan's astute ambiguity is refracted by Frances McDormand's impassioned performance as Ingrid, who is at once ingenuous and intrepid, and doesn't succumb the disheartening reality check solely because she is an outsider, she has nothing else to lose in the purgatory besides her own life, but the film comes to a halt when Kerrigan retreats back from his mission, Loach doesn't want a feel-good deus ex-machina to sabotage his scrutinizing endeavor (otherwise, in a lesser hand, it would be very possible to deploy a secret-recording from Kerrigan of his confab with two high-rank accomplices to turn the table in the eleventh hour), because he doesn't need his films to please everyone, HIDDEN AGENDA is a provocation, but an intelligent one, Mr. Loach masterfully forces us to face a most inconvenient truth with his highly matter-of-fact modality, and its repercussions are here to stay.

Reviewed by mjkpbm 5 / 10

One-sided treatment of a complex political issue

This film takes on a complex political issue: the role of the British in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. There are good performances from many of the actors (including a young Frances McDormand), some rousing action, atmospheric cinematography and plenty of local color.

But the script makes too little effort to tackle the gray areas involved in this conflict. It's not balanced in its treatment of some complex issues. This could have been a movie that showed how both sides had valid arguments to make, why both factions felt they needed protection from the other, and how that lead to brutal violence on both sides.

Instead, it chooses a melodramatic story line, with a decidedly "kick out the British" bias. Too often, the Brits are depicted as evil oppressors who will stop at nothing to hold onto power. The film barely acknowledges that there were plenty of lifelong Northern Irelanders who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom under Crown rule.

McDormand's character, a crusader for civil liberties, seems interested only in documenting the Royal Ulster Constabulary's brutal practices against the IRA. Too little focus is given to the IRA's own murderous ways. Orange Order parades are mocked as barbaric "tribal rituals," while Sinn Fein types who want the British out are given a much more sympathetic treatment, depicted as salt-of-the-earth ordinary folk who simply want freedom and sit crying in smoky pubs while singing songs of rebellion. A more nuanced portrait of both factions was needed, but this film doesn't deliver it. Watch '71 (2014) instead.

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