James Marsh Has Clive Owen in Another 'Untitled Espionage Thriller'

April 6, 2011
Source: Vulture

James Marsh / MI5 / Clive Owen

More spy movies for Clive Owen? Yep, even more. Vulture reports that James Marsh, director of Oscar-winning doc Man on Wire as well as this year's Project Nim, is slated to next direct an "untitled espionage thriller" starring none other than Clive Owen. "It's much more like Red Riding, it's a genre film, it's a thriller," Marsh told Vulture. "It's very exciting to be doing something like that now, to have that kind of canvas to fill." Shooting will begin in Dublin in early May. Starring opposite Owen is up-and-coming British actress Andrea Riseborough (Never Let Me Go) and Aidan Gillen, plus an appearance by Gillian Anderson.

This untitled thriller is said to be centered around the peace process in Northern Ireland in the nineties, with Andrea Riseborough playing a former IRA terrorist turned informer. The project is formerly known as Shadow Dancer and once had Guy Pearce attached, but he's been replaced by Clive Owen. In brief, the plot is about an IRA terrorist who becomes an informer for Britain's MI5. "It's low-budget film, it's not a Hollywood movie by any means," said Marsh. I don't think it's going to do Clive Owen any good starring in yet another espionage/CIA/spy/thriller (I'm still washing out the bad taste of The International), but I am intrigued to see what Marsh comes up with. We'll be on the look-out for this. Any hope for Clive Owen?

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You're still trying to wash out the bad taste of "The International"? You're the first person I've encountered who has said they didn't like it.

Mr. International on Apr 7, 2011


I won't say I didn't like it, but it did bore the shit out of me...

Anonymous on Apr 7, 2011


Hoping someone will make a true life film on the Marty McGartland story. He wrote two books, Fifty Dead Men Walking and Dead Man Running. There was a film made, which was 100% fiction (McGartland said it was Pro IRA and based on lies) called Fifty Dead Men Walking which was nothing at all like the gripping book, the true story. I just found the following; McGartland was the best Spy MI5 ever had in the IRA, he was kidnapped by the terrorists in 1990, he escaped, and was even shot 7 times by them in 1999. He fought of the IRA armed terrorist and in doing shot stop himself being shot in the head. Here is the books; Read both and could not put them down, page turners. I watched the film. It was a big let down, nothing at all like the book.

Mart2011mm on Apr 7, 2011


Thanks for the books info. I just ordered both books after reading your post and this newspaper report. It is reported that this guy stopped terrorist bombings and shootings, that he save the lives of 50 or more people. Never safe: the MI5 agent who thwarted 50 or more IRA killings April 5, 2011 By Charles Lavery As “Agent Carol”, he faced down danger on a daily basis and once leapt through a third-floor window to escape a Irish republican hit squad. He saved countless lives and wrote a book about his exploits which spawned a movie starring Sir Ben Kingsley – and he publicly disowned the film. He is single-handedly responsible for stopping at least 45 IRA bomb and assassination plots in the province and on the UK mainland, and he has the scars to prove it, especially after a failed hit 12 years ago which left him with six bullet holes in his body. So why is Martin McGartland, MI5’s main asset in Belfast between 1987 and 1991, still feeling like a dead man walking while terror kingpins turned politicians talk of peace in Northern Ireland? And why is he fighting for answers from a police force tasked with tracking down his would-be assassin? So strained are relations between McGartland – the victim of a planned IRA hit in broad daylight on a Whitley Bay street – and Northumbria Police, that he now has to ask questions about the inquiry via Freedom of Information requests, which are routinely batted back by the force and labelled “vexatious.” And he’s the victim. Donate to us: support independent, intelligent, in-depth Scottish journalism from just 3p a day You can understand his vexation. McGartland was an asset like no other to the security forces in a troubled Northern Ireland in the days when peace was a pipe-dream and Good Friday divided the community long before the agreement of the same name united it. It is testament to how effective he was as an agent that, some eight years after his leap of faith to escape his torturers, they came knocking again, to finish the job as he got into his car parked outside his supposed safehouse on a quiet English street. A three-man hit team from Glasgow was waiting. The gunman shot him six times as he sat in the driver’s seat and calmly walked away. McGartland remembers thinking the inevitable had just happened, but also that “I must not die this day.” He knew the people he betrayed had very long memories, and an even longer reach. Now 12 years later, and despite DNA, cartridges, a getaway vehicle and the weapons all having been found, nobody has been brought to book. Police also have a taped answerphone message left by a man with a Glaswegian accent who called to ask about buying the very van the hit team used. In the words of McGartland: “One of those clues on its own could solve a case. All of them together is a godsend for a detective and very very rare in any assassination.” But the man who wrote Fifty Dead Men Walking – named in reference to the number of lives he saved in the province – can see the irony in his situation. It was a prosecution brought by Northumbria Police in 1997 that brought the IRA hit team to the door of his safehouse. McGartland had been given a false identity, and a new £100,000 home in the wake of his hasty retreat to the UK mainland. Six years later, Northumbria Police took him to court after a routine traffic stop-and-search discovered two passports in different names, each bearing his picture. The jury took 15 minutes to return a not guilty verdict after McGartland explained exactly why he had them, but the damage was done. His address had been read out in court. Two years later, as he felt the thump of bullets tear his body apart, he thought about the number of times he had pleaded with the authorities to be rehoused. Agent Carol today is a 41-year-old teetotal non-smoking father of three with a road map of war stitched across his body. He walks with a limp, cannot fend much for himself and relies on trusted friends to help him with the daily challenges he faces, like getting up, dressed and showered. He is in a safehouse somewhere on the British mainland and is still “on” 24/7. The smallest deviation from the normal routine of his neighbours can trouble him. A different postman or one too many electricity reading requests can send his mind and heart racing. And all this while across the water there apparently exists a peace process and a standing-down of active operations by republicans. McGartland says he knows better. The last attempt on his life came during a ceasefire and raised questions in the houses of parliament in both London and Belfast as unionists argued that republicans were still active in the terror trade. The under-car booby trap that claimed the life of a young cop in Omagh on Saturday was the type of device McGartland routinely flagged up to his handlers. He saved countless people from the fate that awaited Ronan Kerr, the 25-year-old Catholic officer murdered by dissident republicans in what McGartland believes is the first of many strikes. And he claims the Police Service of Northern Ireland [PSNI] and MI5 are struggling to recruit new agents in the province, thanks to the way they have treated former agents like himself. “Who would put their lives on the line nowadays when they can read what happens to those who did?”, McGartland says. “I can’t go home and the IRA are supposed to be a former terrorist group. Nobody is hunting down my attackers and nobody in authority seems to care. That has a direct impact on recruiting agents and that’s one of the reasons this attack happened. It will not be the last and they will succeed on the mainland. Several attempts have already been thwarted, but they will succeed.” McGartland’s scars are physical and psychological and he has been diagnosed as suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Little wonder. Then he battled Britain’s demons, today he is battling his own. He hasn’t seen his children, or any member of his family, for two decades. Both his mother and sister have undergone life-threatening operations and he couldn’t even contemplate flying home to be with them. Like him, they battled through. He believes Northumbria Police already know who shot him, but have been ordered not to act on that information. DNA recovered at the scene, he believes, has narrowed the hunt to one well-connected family whose genetic fingerprint is already stored in police and security service files. But arresting the man responsible has already been ruled out, McGartland claims, as it has the potential to damage an increasingly fragile peace in the province. Recruitment is underway, say sources in Northern Ireland, and recent events would appear to bear that out, with an increase in attacks on police and government property. “I don’t care that the hitman came from Glasgow,” McGartland says, speaking from his new safehouse. “I don’t care that it was a Scottish team that planned it, but I do care that I am still on the run and they are doing nothing with the evidence they have. “I am convinced that the police know the identity of the person who shot me. I also believe that person was identified as a result of familial DNA and that Northumbria Police have known the identity of the gunman for many years but have been told not to act on political grounds. Northumbria Police declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police did confirm that the Northumbria force has not liaised with them in connection with the inquiry. “There is a wealth of evidence in this case,” McGartland says. “Two guns were recovered, the van was recovered, an answerphone message was recovered and spent cartridges were recovered from the scene along with DNA. They are wilfully turning a blind eye to such a serious attack and refusing to admit IRA involvement even after 12 years. “That attack has changed my life forever and left me with serious physical and psychological injuries which continue to deteriorate as time passes. All I have ever wanted was answers to straightforward questions and some justice. “I have also been diagnosed as having very serious and chronic PTSD as a direct result of the shooting. I rely on others for help. It’s difficult for me to be separated from family and loved ones, more so if there are funerals and weddings which I am unable to attend. “It has now been 20 years since I left Northern Ireland. I don’t miss it but I do of course miss my family. I look at the reasons why I am in this situation and they will always be etched in my mind forever. The IRA intended to murder other human beings and I did what I could to prevent them from doing so. “I have never taken drugs nor drank alcohol but I can tell you that when I prevented an IRA attack which resulted in lives being saved, it was the most powerful, euphoric and emotional experience I have ever felt. I have never come close to the same feeling at any other time in my life and I know I never will. “Those who let me down within the British government or the security services will never ever make me regret anything I did in Northern Ireland. The truth of the matter is, if I could do it all over again I would do so in a heartbeat. I did not do it for the RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary], MI5 or the British government, I did it because it was the right thing to do. “I have three children in Northern Ireland. I have been unable to make any contact with them or have any kind of relationship with them for obvious reasons, but also because small-minded people would cause them problems and possibly even serious harm, so it is best for all concerned to leave things as they are.” It’s easy to see why reports on Agent Carol placed him as the number one source for the security services in Belfast. There were so many “operations” he can’t actually remember all of the bombings and assassinations he helped prevent. “In recent months,” he says, “I and others drew up a list of IRA ‘operations’ which I prevented during the four years I worked in Northern Ireland and we calculated no fewer than 45. These included planned shootings of individual British soldiers, police officers and others, large bombs planned for Belfast city centre, under-car booby traps, gun attacks and bomb attacks on large groups of British soldiers and police officers. “The Omagh bomb [in 1998] was 500lb of homemade explosives. Some of the bombs discovered by me before they could be used were double that amount and there was one which the IRA planned to attack a convoy of UDR [Ulster Defence Regiment] soldiers with that was going to be between 1,000 and 1,500lb of explosives. “I have never said how many I believe were saved as a result of the ‘operations’ I prevented, but I have absolutely no difficulty in stating that I believe it is in excess of 50. “The above does not take into account the huge sums which were saved to the British taxpayer that would have been paid out in compensation for damage caused to property and also injuries and deaths resulting from such attacks had they been successful. “The sacrifice made by me and others was significant. Myself and people like me made what I would regard as an important contribution in Northern Ireland. I feel we have simply been forgotten about and I also feel that we have had absolutely no recognition at a time when the gunmen and the bombers are quite clearly being rewarded.” McGartland had no involvement with republicans prior to being signed up as an agent by MI5 in 1987. He was 17. They recruited him and moulded him into what they wanted, then put him in the areas of Belfast where he could feed back. The plan worked. He was no Provo brought in from the cold, he was a product of security services counter-intelligence, wrung dry and left to die there. Only he didn’t. In recent days, a former Scots soldier, Michael Dickson, was ordered to be extradited from the Czech Republic to Germany. He is wanted in Germany for a mortar attack against Osnabrück barracks in June 1996. He has been on the run since. The PSNI named Michael Dickson – a former Scots soldier wanted in Germany for a mortar attack against Osnabrück barracks in June 1996 – as a suspect in the 1999 Whitley Bay shooting. But McGartland says he was told some years ago that Dickson does not match the DNA profile of his attacker. And so his war goes on. He is a clever man, this Agent Carol, Martin Ashe, Martin McGartland, or whatever his name is now, he won’t tell. And he has this message for Northumbria Police and the security services: “Why are you turning a blind eye to terrorism in your own country while at the same time claiming you are fighting terror in other parts of the world?” Thanks also for the link to the website just been on it and there is a great deal of information about Martin McGartland and background. The British who he helped so much have turned against him, Northumbria Police and MI5 are covering up his 1991 kidnapping and 1999 his 1999 attempted murder. The British are now protecting the IRA terrorists from arrest. Shame on them.

Leemullan34 on Apr 7, 2011


I too read Martin McGartlands books and must agree that the film Fifty Dead Men Walking was very poor. To my mind Martin McGartland is a man who was responsible for saving the lives of over 50 inoccent peoples. Anyone who undertakes infiltration of the terrorist group (the IRA) purely to gather intelligence for the British government deserves the Victoria cross. Martin McGartland sacrificed everything, his life, his family and even his own freedom for what he saw was the greater good. I often read comments refering to Martin as a 'Tout' (Terrorist PR), supergrass ( is an out and out IRA member who sings like a sparrow to save his own skin,whilst pointing the finger at all his associates) or even informer. Martin McGartland was a british agent, he was someone who went inside on behalf of the state. He stopped many bombings and shootings as a result. Martin McGartland's story is a remarkable one and since being uncovered by Northumbria Police that led the IRA to his 'safehouse'. The way the Northumbria police force treat him is shocking, trying to expose him at every turn and so on, for some strange reason. Mi5 too have been involved in dirty tricks and smear against Martin, perhaps Martin became too popular for them. Lets not forget that it is brave men like Martin McGartland who do all of the hard work, who ;put themselves in real danger for little or no reward. The desk men and women at HQ, Mi5, the RUC ... take full credit and the Martin McGartland's of the world get no recognition at all for the heroric worke/ He will always remain an unsung hero as far as I am concerned. Best of luck to you Martin.

Suezayas on Apr 7, 2011


REGARDS: Martin MCGartland, The British Agent The book-ebook links above are incorrect. Here are the correct ones:- Fifty Dead Men Walking - $4.99 There are also links to Dead Man Running and to the UK editions.

Mel2000tr on Apr 7, 2011


Could not agree more, found it such a boring movie. I try to follow evens in Ireland, have read many books (including those written by Martin McGartland), watched many movies. One thing is very clear, MI5 the British Security Service are so ruthless once one of their own agent's has passed their sell-by-date. The U.S.A would never treat Agents in this way, those Agents put their own lives on the line to protect our people. The pen-pushers in MI5 do nothing only make calls and bark out orders. They do not take such risks nor put themselfs in harmsway. .

Rosemary, New York on Sep 8, 2012


Could not agree more regards 'Our' Security Service (MI5) who are ruthless once an agent has passed his or her sell-by-date,

Jay on Sep 8, 2012

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