When you sit down to watch a Ken Loach film, you definitely don’t expect a political thriller. There are people like Costa Gavres doing it in a better way. “Hidden Agenda” disappoints you in many ways. In a nut-shell, the movie is a “whodunnit” type, James Bond genre with an abnormal ending. Invariably, all Bond movies end up with the hero being victorious, walking away with all laurels. Here, Detective Kerrigan gives up the investigation in between because he knows that the enemy is far too formidable. He is supposed to investigate the assassination of an American Civil Liberties Activist, an internationally reputed lawyer in Northern Ireland. Kerrigan discovers not only an extensive cover up of that event but a giant political conspiracy as well. Somehow, he doesn’t have the nerve to nab the culprits. It’s not just one fellow, the entire system has to be hand-cuffed!
Kerrigan gradually recognizes British government’s immense power to obscure and manipulate the truth. He can’t do a fig as he too is a part of it. He is a career police officer with twenty-six years’ standing, though he has impeccable credentials and integrity. His sympathies lie with the IRA and Kerrigan risks his life meeting the victims of RUC (Police) violence. In fact, there is ‘shoot-to-kill’ order in operation. Innocent civilians are murdered in cold blood.
intruding into your lives
The movie opens with the American lawyer Paul Sullivan alongwith his fiancée Ingrid, both members of the International League of Civil Liberties, land up in Belfast to gather information on Human Rights violations by the British Security forces. Even IRA sympathizers are tortured during interrogations.
Ingrid & Sullivan
Meanwhile an ex-army officer named Harris is in the custody of a few audio tapes which contain a certain plot to eliminate / blackmail certain leaders who are seen as a potential threat to the powers-that-be. Harris himself is on the run from the British Security forces and wants Paul to make the revelations of its contents to the world. Paul is interested and arranges a meeting with Harris outside the city. Unfortunately, he is run off the road and murdered. The government promptly sends in a special investigator- our career cop Kerrigan to piece together a report.
The detective and the activist
The high-point of “Hidden Agenda” is that it is based on a couple of true stories! In fact, fact and fiction are interwoven seamlessly such that the entire film appears blurred! Agenda is neither a documentary nor a feature film.
We all know that the skewed policies of Margaret Thatcher were responsible for Northern Ireland’s troubles in the eighties. Besides, the Tory political masterminds of the Iron Lady, the British Intelligence and the CIA hatched a devious plot to permanently keep the progressive Labor opposition from ever taking power again.
The movie is inspired by the Stalker Affair too (of 1983) in which a senior British police officer, John Stalker was assigned to investigate a killing by British Security officials. He uncovered evidence that the shooting was unjustified. Naturally, he was removed. Kerrigan does not go that far, but his fate is also sealed!
Margaret Thatcher is the real target of Hidden Agenda. I don’t know whether it is justifiable to make a film on one’s bête noir. A film maker should always be open (to people and ideas). No grudge harboring allowed. Interestingly, the movie strays away from the core issue, North Ireland becomes less and less relevant as the film progresses.
One Tory MP remarked in bad taste “Hidden Agenda is the IRA entry at the Cannes”!
I don’t know why!
Stewart Cope is responsible for the score. You guessed it right, he is the co-founder of the pop band The Police.
“Hidden Agenda” won the Jury Prize at the Cannes in 1990.
Yeah, nothing succeeds like success!