The Outsider (1980)

Imdb Ranking 6.8

The movie opens on the Republic of Ireland / Northern Ireland border. Explosives are being rigged at a checkpoint but a British Military patrol drives up and shots are exchanged.

Seamus Flaherty passed on stories of fighting the Brits in Ireland to his grandson Michael Flaherty. When Michael got out of the US Army, having fought in Viet Nam, he goes to Ireland to fight for the IRA. His grandfather left Ireland because he shot a policeman during the truce.

Michael goes on patrols and out to pubs with his IRA comrades. IRA leaders discuss the best way to respond to some children being killed by the British. Should they respond with violence or should they exploit it to raise money? They discuss the possibilities of moving Michael to Belfast. If he was killed or wounded they could get some great publicity. They might get lucky.

Before you know it Michael is involved in a mission to kidnap someone in the North and bring him back to the South. They bring the man back, who is a magistrate, and they give him an IRA trial. The IRA men think they the judge has been giving unfair judgments to Catholics. They execute the man, and also have Michael fire a shot in to him to.

Now that Michael has involved, they are ready to send him to Belfast and Michael is excited. The UFF (Ulster Freedom Fighters) responded to the magistrate's execution by killing two people. It is May, 1973 in Belfast. Parts of it look like the bombed out cities of Europe after World War II.

We then see some young boys fire bombing a place where the Brits had shot from last week, The Brits respond by opening fire on the boys. People come running with guns from all directions and a boy lies dead on the street. The next day we see the funeral procession.

The British have an informer in with the IRA. To protect him the British think to cast suspicion on the American. It will protect their informer, and if the IRA kills him they will get some great publicity. Michael is anxious to get involved.

We then see a scene of the British torturing a blind man to get information about an IRA bomb factory. Later Michael goes on a mission with Tony. Tony is going to shoot him with a British bullet, for public relations, but his gun jams and Michael shoots him first.

Michael flees Ireland and heads back to Detroit. Michael then finds out his grandfather (Sterling Hayden) is on his deathbed and Michael goes up to see him. Seamus wakes up and talks to Michael. He tells Michael that he fooled everyone. When he was captured by the British, they said they were going to lash him to a mine. So he helped them, and then he had to help them more and more or they would tell he was an informer. They hanged his best friend. Then he says that maybe it wasn't a bad treaty after all. Michael is furious. "Why did you tell me all the stories when I was a kid?" "I always wanted to be like you." He says he told him those stories because he didn't want to die owing. This was his way of paying back.

Well done movie with villains on both sides. Hard to spot the heroes. A very realistic movie that showed the horrors of the troubled times. It's easy to see why it probably didn't do too well at the box office, but a good movie nonetheless.