In 2007, after over fifty years of conflict in Northern Ireland, Protestant leader and union hardliner Ian Paisley agreed to share leadership power with his lifelong adversary Sinn Fein politican leader and terrorist Martin McGuinness. British director Nick Hamm presents an admitted fictional account of how these two opposites finally came to terms with each other.


Cast in the leads of the two fundamentally different characters are Londoner Timothy Spall as Paisley and Colm Meaney as McGuiness in what could only be described as a classically presented acting clinic.

The premise of the story revolves around the British political hierarchy Tony Blair (Toby Stephens) along with a member of MI5 security Harry Patterson plot to get Paisley and McGuiness together for the first time. It seems that in all the years of fighting they never actually met. Even at the the first St Andrews meetings, while they were in the same building, they refused to meet.


But Paisley was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary in Belfast and wanted to go home for a party. The weather changed and it was agreed that he go from another airport...with McGuiness. Driving the van is an MI5 operative, Jack (Freddie Highmore) whose assignment is to keep them together until some sort of dialogue develops.


This isn't easy as Paisley is steadfast in his hatred of McGuiness though McGuiness is more than happy to talk - to a certain point. Jack tries to break the ice by acknowledging that he recognizes them, but only McGuinness talks; Paisley is more than content to stare blankly out the window. That is, until the van crashes into a pile of wood.


Paranoia flares up with Paisley and McGuinness wondering what is going on, maybe an assassination attempt or some kind of conspiracy. Patterson, Blair and the Brits are wondering what Jack is up to as they are monitoring the situation from afar.


The premise of these two high powered men frolicking around the countryside unattended is unbelievable and the story is a total farce. This is not how peace was finally gained in Northern Ireland, at least a great portion of the story is fictionalized. It would be nice to know how much is fake or if the entire film is a work of fiction. But never mind, because Spall and Meaney deliver very convincing performances.


However, since the story is fictional, why not beef it up a bit with more suspense as to Jack's purpose, or even an outside assassination attempt?


"The Journey" is an interesting proposition of a fictional event during an actual moment in history that is well acted but underwritten. Action lovers will get bored, acting lovers will enjoy the repartee between two delightful actors.   -- GEOFF BURTON