Dead Shot (2023) is a taut thriller film, albeit that holds its authenticity too close to its chest. The British film is a cold, gruesome story set in 1975 at the peak of the IRA-British conflict. Even though Dead Shot does not concern itself with the historical and cultural significance of its geopolitical context, there are faint murmurs of political commentary.
They are intentionally suppressed to exhibit the staging of the film’s dramatic plot. So don’t go into the movie expecting an emotionally charged narrative like In the Name of the Father (1993). Dead Shot has a very linear, sedated visual language streamlined with different creative intentions.
It is a true-blood action film with weighty considerations about the nature of violence. One critical flaw that will prevent Dead Shot from becoming a mass hit is its film ingenuity. The storytelling has arthouse elements that linger far too much on the exposition of the human truth in the face of war.
It demands a lot from the viewers in breaking down Dead Shot and getting closer to the characters. In this detailed ending explainer of Dead Shot, we also go over major plot points and elaborate upon the unanswered questions from the film.
Is Dead Shot based on a true story?
Dead Shot is based on a true story, but the film’s characters and plot details have been fictionalized. It is based on The Road to Balcombe Street: The IRA Reign of Terror in London by Steven Moysey, which itself tells the true story of the Balcombe gang. The group was notorious for carrying out wanton acts of terrorism in London and other parts of Britain. The unit that Michael joined with Hogan, Joe Lynch, and Quinn is most probably inspired by the true Balcombe gang. Other parts of Dead Shot are fictional, although the exactness of the events is tough to rule out from real life.
Dead Shot (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
Dead Shot starts off with the tragic shooting of a pregnant, defenseless woman named Carol. Her husband, Michael O’Hara, is a retired IRA member known as “The Bandit.” Carol is shot dead by British soldier Henry Tempest, who also shoots at Michael and thinks he is dead. But Michael is alive and, with the help of Keenan, a high-level executive of the IRA, tracks down Tempest in London. Another player, Holland, is involved in protecting Tempest. Michael sets out for revenge and joins up with a notorious IRA unit in London. Catherine, called “the courier,” helps him, but things go awfully wrong as the unit goes awry.
Why does Holland recruit Tempest?
Holland is most probably involved with an intelligence agency. It is not unusual for the head of a State to delegate the dirty work to such agencies. We have all seen how the CIA does America’s bidding in the darkest of places around the world. This is the sort of explanation that Holland gives Tempest and Lieutenant Cole, who is Tempest’s colleague in the two-man job. The IRA kept targeting random places throughout Britain in the ‘70s to amplify their “freedom movement.” The senselessness of violence resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians who had nothing to do with either side in the war.
The British government decided to play IRA’s dirty game at their level and instructed men like Holland from intelligence to recruit rogue soldiers. This was a direct measure of countering the IRA threat, fighting them with their own devious methods. That is why Holland hired Tempest. The explanation also highlights how exploitative Holland’s intentions and methods were.
What does Michael have to do to attract Tempest’s attention?
The Kentish Town bombings, where Tempest and Cole killed two IRA men, changed the intensity of Michael’s mission. It augmented the attempt to hurt the British government, even if it came at the cost of human life. Keenan ordered Catherine to give Michael a task before he could exact personal revenge on Tempest. The task was to bomb the Paddington Station. Catherine assured Michael that this was how he would get the attention of Tempest, and then he would have the chance to take revenge and kill him.
Michael positioned Twomy, his best mate whom he brought from Ireland, at a high position to shoot Tempest as he arrived at the Station. This would be after Michael had sent Quinn and Lance to place the bomb inside the building and informed the police about the bomb to make sure they evacuated the entire place. Their intention was to bomb the building and make a statement to the government and not kill innocent Britishers.
How does the Paddington bombing change the complexion of the story?
Instead of waiting for thirty minutes, Quinn and Lance trigger the bomb in six. Michael is in the phone booth when some cops start harassing Lynch due to his ethnicity. He gets out and calms down Quinn and Lance from attacking the cops. The bombs go off, and these Irish soldiers open fire on the cops. Both of them are killed, and Lynch drives off in a rush. Michael picks up Quinn’s rifle and looks for Tempest, who is on the run. Twomey missed his mark and was only able to kill Cole and crash their car.
Michael spots Tempest. He gives a long chase, but eventually, Tempest is able to escape. In the aftermath of the bombings, Ruth breaks up with Tempest when she learns the truth about what he did to Carol. He also lies to her as if everything is fine and is at the center of all the chaos in the city and Ruth’s own life. The Irish unit went rogue and came under the police’s scanner. Lynch is taken into custody and questioned by Holland and Tempest illegally. They torture him to get answers about O’Hara’s location, which leads Tempest to his hideout.
Dead Shot (2023) Movie Ending, Explained:
Why does Michael decide not to kill Tempest? Who betrayed Michael by giving him up to the British army?
In the final showdown, Kennan shows up in London and instructs Michael to kill Holland. Michael is already a wounded man and tries to attack Keenan when he insinuates he will kill Michael’s mother, Faidh. Keenan turns violent and even attacks Catherine, who is revealed to be his daughter. Keenan reveals that he was the one who sent the British army to Carol and his location. He is the one who is responsible for her death. Michael was retired, but Keenan didn’t want to let him go. “The path to freedom” was more important for Keenan.
What is Catherine’s plan to escape?
After Catherine reveals this, we also learn that she is “the courier” who runs all the information machinery in London for the IRA. She discusses her plans to get away from everything in London and her father by taking a boat to Boston. Michael feels Keenan will find her out anywhere in the world, but Catherine is willing to take chances. That night, Michael kills Keenan in cold blood to take revenge for getting Carol killed and also to ensure that Catherine has a safe passage and can live without fear.
How does Tempest find Catherine?
When Lynch points Tempest to Michael’s hideout, the former soldier finds photographs of him in the room. On close inspection, Tempest notices something that leads him to Catherine. He finds her through the reflection in the photograph, which reads “Griffin.” Catherine stays in an apartment near this place, and Tempest recognizes the same, having been there earlier in the film. He finds Catherine and instructs her to take him to Michael, who is arriving at her location to go to Boston with her.
Why did Michael not kill Tempest?
Catherine is able to raise an alert for Michael, but Tempest catches wind of it. He distracts Tempest and asks Catherin to go alone. He cannot run away from it anymore and must face his destiny. In a scenic climax on a deserted shore, we see Michael being able to pin down Tempest and get hold of his gun. He holds Tempest at gunpoint, and we see that Tempest’s shooting earlier – the previous night – when Michael was just arriving at the place, has left him wounded.
But Michael falls down to his knees and drops his gun. Tempest apologizes for killing Carol and their unborn baby, and Michael agrees with him. He blames himself for putting Carol in that position. If not for him, Carol would have reached the hospital safely that day, and that is something he couldn’t run away from. It is a poetic ending that symbolizes the senselessness of violence.
What do Twomey’s actions in the very end represent?
Tempest starts a new life with Ruth, who forgives him. She is pregnant, and they have together plans to open a new clothing store in Ruth’s name. But Twomey has not given up on Michael’s revenge. He is still stationed on a rooftop and shoots Tempest dead as the screen turns red. Such political and military conflicts are a zero-sum game. The cold-bloodedness and vanity of Twomey’s actions and Tempest’s actions are harbingers of that realization that only comes after precious human lives have been lost and destroyed.
Dead Shot is unique in how it levels the playing field and gives us no real hero to root for. Violence on both sides puts you in a quandary to resent the conflict itself rather than the men who made it possible. In the end, all our protagonists, Michael “The Bandit” O’Hara, Henry Tempest, Holland, and Keenan, represent the same helplessness of violence. They are all the same men cut from the same cloth, wearing their identities differently. Dead Shot gives the viewers great food for thought, and it manifests the predicament of characters with its wretched cinematic reality.