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Review: 'Into the Storm'

May 30, 2009 |  3:00 am

Intothestorm It's difficult to imagine a braver or more ambitious project than “Into the Storm,” which premieres on HBO Sunday night. To tell the story of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the years of World War II and the months that followed is enough to freeze a screenwriter's heart. Add to that the task of living up to its predecessor, “The Gathering Storm,” which starred Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave and -- well, you see where the bravery comes in.

While "The Gathering Storm" portrayed Churchill struggling to stay solvent, influential and married, "Into the Storm" shows him at the height of his powers. It's hard to beat Finney, but Brendan Gleeson (last seen as one of "In Bruges' " lovable hit men) does his level best, setting his jaw in that signature grimace of confidence, making sweeping decisions without pause and delivering speech after speech designed to keep spines straight and hearts bold all over the little island he loved so well.

While Gleeson pours himself into that iconic voice (at times a bit unintelligible to the American ear), the strength of his Churchill radiates from the eyes, which in private moments shine darkly with sorrow, doubt and occasionally fear. The same man who promptly rejects the suggestion that Britain negotiate with Mussolini and Hitler with the words "nations that go down fighting, rise up again; those that surrender tamely are finished," holds in his mind not the pillars of power but the image of a man who once wished him luck.

Read more: Review: 'Into the Storm'

-- Mary McNamara

Photo credit: Susan Allnutt / HBO