A Prayer For The Dying Review

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Mickey Rourke's IRA hitman tries to escape his past, but falls foul of Alan Bates as a camp mob boss and Bob Hoskins (!) as an ex-SAS man turned priest.


Adapted from the taut novel by Jack Higgins, directed by Mike Hodges and starring Bob Hoskins, Alan Bates and a top-of-his-game Mickey Rourke, this 1987 thriller should deliver in spades but falls short, working only as a woefully crude melodrama. Rourke plays an ex-IRA assassin haunted by his past, whose final contract-killing delivers him into the lives of a priest and his blind niece.

The central themes of salvation and redemption are laid on thick, the symbolism is crushingly unsubtle, and the complexities of the Northern Ireland Troubles simplified and reduced to an offensive degree.

A thriller best appreciated as a simplistic, melodramatic redemption thriller.