McCann At The Movies: ‘Maze’ Is A Solid If Underwhelming Political Drama

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Our movie guy, John McCann, says ‘Maze’ has more of a ‘TV movie’ feel than anything else…

A seasoned campaigner on the film festival trail, this week saw the general release of Stephen Burke’s Maze starring Tom Vaughan Lawlor and Barry Ward.

Inspired by the true events of the 1983 breakout of 38 Irish Republican prisoners from the Maze prison in Northern Ireland and written and directed by award winning director Burke ,who has a history of well received short films dealing with the Troubles (After 68 and 81).

Maze is a gritty political drama that deals with the political tensions and actions of the time. It’s a subtle, entertaining and balanced manner and one that will for the most part, entertain the audience over the 90 minute running time.

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It does however fall somewhat short of the high quality of Irish film being produced this year with films Handsome Devil and Cardboard Gangsters setting the bar particularly high in 2017.


An Irish-Swedish co-production, with the Irish Film Board and RTÉ among the organisations providing financial backing, Maze plays out like a high quality TV movie and one that ultimately doesn’t disappoint but lacks that punch that would bring this feature to the next level.

The logistics of the breakout itself are shaky at best and lets the film down at its most important juncture.

There are also many positives within this film also however. Tom Vaughan Lawlor wisely plays down the “Nidge” factor in his portrayal of Larry Marley, the architect of the breakout and his subtle yet wily intensity that he brings to the role is central to all that is good about this film.

The core relationship between Marley and prison guard Gordon Close (played by the excellent Barry Ward) is another redeeming feature whereby both characters may have more in common than they may wish to admit and the intrigue and tensions is turned up a notch anytime this two characters share screen time.

Overall, though a plodding pace and at times undeveloped script make Maze an entertaining TV movie but unfortunately nothing more.


For more of John McCann’s movie reviews, check out his Facebook page here and website here

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