Prayer for the Dying (1987)

IMDB Rating 6.4

Mickey Rourke plays Martin Fallon, an IRA hitman who accidently blew up a bus with school children instead of the police cars he was after. Martin flees to England and wants out but he needs a passport. Gangster, Jack Meehan (Alan Bates)  will get him the passport but he wants one more job out of him. Martin kills a man at a cemetery but Father Michael Da Costa (Bob Hoskins) sees him. Martin goes to confession with Father Da Costa and confesses the murder. He thinks this will keep the priest from testifying against him. He could have killed him, but he is done with killing.

Jack Meehan still wants the priest killed. He wants no witnesses. Father Da Costa tells the police he can no longer help them. 

Liam Docherty (Liam Neeson), who took part in the school bus bombing and the IRA are also out to get Martin. when he left without telling anyone he  became a liability to the cause. When Liam and Martin meet, Martin tells him he can't go back. He also tells Liam that "it's alright" if he kills him, but Liam can't do it.

Jack Meehan is crazy and so is his brother, Billy. The movie gets away from the IRA story and the accidental killings and becomes a movie about a crazy gangster who wants a witness killed and a repentant killer determined to protect him.

To further confuse the plot, Martin has an affair with the priest's blind niece. As the sound track, and the movie gets worse, crazy Billy tries to rape the niece but she stabs and kills him. The movie suddenly took a strange turn and became an exploitation flic.

Roger Ebert said of the movie:
I once saw a movie named "Cal" that never got a proper release in America.
It was an honest attempt to deal with the heartbreak of the situation in Northern Ireland. I was reminded of it the other day by "A Prayer for the Dying," which is an almost obscene exploitation of that situation, a ludicrous movie about a subject that deserves more serious treatment.

In a review we see:
Like many in the film industry, Hodges has suffered from corporate interference. Despite interesting performances by Mickey Rourke, Bob Hoskins and Alan Bates, A Prayer for the Dying (1987) was re-edited against Hodges’ wishes, resulting in a stylistically uneven work the director attempted to remove his name from. Attempts to release a director’s cut on DVD have now “sadly failed”, in the director’s own words. Had Hodges’ version remained, A Prayer for the Dying‘s original structure would have ideally complemented one of Mickey Rourke’s most memorable roles as a repentant ex-I.R.A. killer from Belfast. Unfortunately, Hollywood wanted a more linear narrative emphasising action and violence rather than the type of work characteristic of Hodges’ type of innovative cinema.
Mike Hodges: The whole feeling was different. There were “flash backs” to the killing…and a flash-forward to the collapse of the cross after the bomb goes off (as premonition) when he first walks into the church. The crap about the priest being ex-SAS was minimal in my version. But, more seriously, the pacing of my film was destroyed, and the sound track decimated

Ultimately, although it started off with the bungled IRA bombing, the movie is not really about the Irish. It started with a great opening scene and the movie had great potential, but the movie sees to lose it's focus and wanders all over the place. With Rourke, Bates, Hoskins and Neeson, this movie could have been great, but unfortunately it is not all it could have been. The movie turned in to a story about crazy gangsters and a priest who won't break the silence of the confessional.

Still, You may want to see it for the actors alone, but prepare to be disappointed.