Cate Blanchett is the spark that keeps this well-meaning but by-the-numbers biopic going. The gifted Aussie plays the title character, a journalist in Ireland who got herself shot and killed in 1996 by blowing the lid off Dublin's drug trade in the Sunday Independent. Guerin, a wife and mother, took on the badass boyos, notably John Gilligan, a mobster played with full-bore ferocity by Gerard McSorley. "You fucking cunt!" he screams when Guerin visits him at home, punctuating his point by kicking her in the stomach and face.
What drove Guerin to keep digging after such brutality? Guts? Ambition? A death wish? You won't find out from the rote script by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue, which follows the martyr pattern of Silkwood and When the Sky Falls, a failed 2000 film in which Joan Allen played Guerin. Director Joel Schumacher compensates by letting the actors rip. Besides McSorley, who is superb, there's Ciarán Hinds — slime incarnate as Guerin's informant — and Colin Farrell, who shows up for a cameo that is no less lively for having no reason for being. This is Blanchett' s show, and she powers it by giving Guerin a motor that never idles.