The respective evidence of "Phone Booth" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" seemed to indicate that a movie directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer might not be a thing to dread. So much for that theory. A rote thriller of the torn-from-the-headlines school, "Veronica Guerin" casts the overqualified Cate Blanchett as an Irish newspaper reporter determined to expose the criminals who are polluting Dublin's youths with heroin. Walking streets tastefully strewn with syringes (Schumacher cut his teeth as a window dresser, remember), Veronica and her sympathizers spout bogus-sounding soapbox speeches that typify the movie's gimme-an-Oscar artlessness. It's also an ideological muddle, vacillating between condemning the "coddling" of criminals (which is bad) and championing the rights of journalists (which is good, except when it comes to Bob Novak). Standout Gerard McSorley raises a few shudders as a criminal whose paucity of brains makes him even more of a threat; not so the scatterbrained Veronica, who continues to open her front door to strangers after her house is shot at. The point of this film isn't to be smart, but to put a mild Irish gloss on the consumer-approved paradigm of the gutsy mama who takes on insidious forces to stand up for what she believes in. Call it "Erin Go Brockovich" ... then forget it.
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