NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Spectre

Ireland 1974.

The film begins outside a bar in Belfast. Three IRA members, Dorieann McCann (Kerry Condon), Conor McGrath (Conor MacNeill) and Seamus Mckenna (Seamus O’Hara) are waiting for two men to walk into the bar. McKenna parks a second car in front of the bar and primes a bomb with a timer fuse. As the three wait, McCann is horrified to see in the mirror that a mother and three children are about to walk past the bar. Two of the children, brothers, get into a fight over schoolbooks, causing them to stop right in front of the bar. McCann gets out of the car and yells at the mother to get the kids moving, making a scene. The mother and McCann trade knowing glances. The mother understands what is about to happen. But it is too late. The car explodes, killing the mother, the children, and the men inside the bar. Having no choice, McCann and her cohorts drive off. They switch cars, burning the previous one with a Molotov cocktail. Driving down the back roads, they smash into sign, destroying it. It’s of the town they will hide in until the heat dies down.


Finbar Murphy (Liam Neeson) and local police captain Vinnie O’Shea (Ciarán Hinds) are by the cliffside, setting up cans for a target shot competition for a bet with Murphy’s shotgun. Murphy ultimately wins the bet, with O’Shea paying up. “Robbing me blind, you whore,” O”Shea retorts. They talk of the books Murphy is reading. Murphy tells him he is done with Gulliver’s Travels and has started reading the novelist Dostoevsky. O’Shea drives down to where the town’s sign has been destroyed; the same one McCann and her cohorts destroyed. Murphy and O’Shea argue over the color of the car’s paint that scratched the sign.

O’Shea drives Murphy home. On the way end, he lightly flirts with his neighbor Rita (Niamh Cusack). Looking at his car, he finds a branch of leaves. He sighs; it’s a coded message that a job is ready. Murphy goes to the glove box and finds and envelope with a picture of his target, Bart McGuiness.

Murphy drives and listens to the radio. He hears about the bombing and how six people died, including the three children.

Murphy goes into a bar and sides down with a drink and a book. He watches as McGuiness goes up and sings.

We cut to the morning as Murphy drives into an isolated forest. Waiting for him is Kevin (Jack Gleeson) a fellow hit man and coworker. Murphy opens the trunk, where the tied up McGuiness lays. He wakes him up and tells him to start walking. McGuiness walks into the forest, holding a small tree, while Murphy is walking behind him. Murphy gives him a shovel and tells him to dig.

After some time, Murphy tells him that it is enough then pulls out an egg timer, setting it to one minute. He tells McGuiness he has that time to say what he wants to say; beg, plead etc. McGuiness refuses to do so, first noticing all the newly planted trees and concludes there is a body under each. “You’ve been busy,” McGuiness says. McGuiness says he knew this day would come; he had done terrible things a long time ago, but had given it up to make something of himself in the community. Yet, he knew his time was coming. “This is where it ends for people like us.”

In his final moments, he gives Murphy a telling piece of advice. “Try and do some good before you find yourself here.” The timer goes off, and Murphy readies his shotgun. McGuiness begins to sing and Murphy hesitates, before finally pulling the trigger. He buries the body and plants the tree.

Murphy meets with his handler, Robert McQue (Colm Meaney) and is given the money from the contract. Robert tells him that there will be another job next week. However, Murphy shocks him telling Robert that he is quitting and he should give Kevin all future contracts. He says he plans to maybe start a garden. Robert is less than happy, knowing that while Kevin is competent, he is also reckless and rude. Nevertheless, he respects and ultimately understands Murphy’s decision.

“You gonna miss me?” Murphy asks.

“Like a hole in the head,” Robert replies.

Murphy goes home and hides his money and puts his shotgun on the shelf, somewhat relieved to be done with it. He begins to clear his yard so he can tend to the soil, something Rita notices. He goes into town, and buys all the seeds the shopkeeper has.

Later that night, he has dinner with Rita, who gives him gardening tips. Rita asks about his long dead wife, Margaret, and Murphy reminisces, saying he met her at the bookstore she worked out of (which in part sparked his interest in literature). “She was too good for me, that woman. Much like yourself,” Murphy notes. He winces, as he hears her dying husband in the next room, knowing he unintentionally overstepped his boundaries.

After dinner, he sees a local young girl Moya (Michelle Gleeson) fishing over a bridge. He attempts to help her catch one but accidentally causes a box of food supplies to fall over the bridge. Moya is terrified at lost items and Murphy notices bruises on her neck, making him concerned.

Going to the local pub, he buys O’Shea and his wife a drink. The bartender Sinead (Sarah Greene) is Moya’s mother. Murphy talks to her about seeing Moya and causing her to lose the box of food, which makes Sinead freeze up, which Murphy notices.

Outside, he sees Moya with a horse, trying to run away. He tries to dissuade her, telling Moya her mother will miss her. Plus, it would be impossible for the horse to know its way in the dark. Moya is terrified but won’t say why. Murphy walks her home, only for Curtis June (Dominic Eastwood) to come out, being rude to her. Murphy looks at him with immediate hate. He has a good idea where the bruises are coming from.

The next morning, Curtis goes inside the barn inside of Sinead’s property, where McCann (who is his sister) and the others are hiding out. He gives them food Moya gave him and they are less than pleased by what was given. McCann scolds her brother for being out in the open so much. He needs to get what they need and come back.

Murphy stops by again with groceries to help replace what was lost, which he hands off to Sinead. He sees Moya holding something in her hand. After much prodding, she shows him a bullet with a cross etched into it. Murphy realizes Curtis has threatened her to keep quiet about the abuse. “Did something happen you don’t want to tell me about?” Moya looks up in fear. Around that time, Curtis reappears and takes all the food Murphy brought and walks off. Sinead is less than happy to see him. She explains to Murphy that her brother married McCann and got himself killed. Curtis may technically be family, but they would be better off never seeing them again.

Murphy meets with Robert to have his blessing to kill Curtis. Robert empathetically says no, given it would be a local murder and Curtis and his friends are probably IRA. Robert tells Murphy to get the police involved, but Murphy counters that Moya is so scared she will never admit to what he has done and he will just keep doing it. Robert tells Murphy he wants no part of it.

Murphy watches Curtis swim in the ocean. He follows him up the road in his car and offers him a ride and a cigarette. Pulling over, he shows Curtis his shotgun, before using it to knock him out. He takes Curtis to the forest. However, when he opens the trunk, Curtis has a knife and slashes him. Murphy loads his shotgun and fires at the fleeing Curtis, clipping him in the leg. Curtis says he will just leave town, as Murphy reloads the gun. He pulls the trigger, but the shells misfire. As Curtis lunges at him again, he is shot in the head by Kevin who had followed Murphy. Kevin tells Murphy he will pay for his bingo cards at the bar later that night for saving him.

As Kevin digs a grave for Curtis, he talks about one of his victims, and how the man knew the moment he stopped digging, he would die, so he just kept digging until the hole was nine foot deep. Kevin laughs at the memory. Murphy asks if killing is just a joke to him. Kevin just shrugs, and kicks Curtis into the hole.

At the bar, Kevin plays bingo, getting increasingly angry at losing. He talks about his victims more, being glib with their last moments of begging. Murphy angrily tells him to stop, as killing is not a joke to him and at least tries to treat his targets with some dignity at the end. Kevin asks him how many people he has killed. Murphy punches him in response and leaves the bar.

The next morning, McCann waits for her brother, not yet realizing he will never return. McGrath and McKenna show her the newspaper about how they have been publicly named and want to flee but she will not leave without her brother. She goes to look for him, finding his revolver which is missing a single bullet.

McCann goes to Sinead looking for her brother, saying he is missing. Moya audibly shows relief, which McCann notices. McCann physically threatens Sinead, choking her. Sinead tells her that Curtis swam daily, hoping he maybe drowned.

McCann sits down at the beach and watches a young family nearby. She cries, remembering the family she once had before violence tore it apart.

Murphy and O’Shea do more target practice on the cliffs.

McCann calls her contacts, asking for information about the locals. She is led to Robert.

Robert is at home when McCann arrives. He fumbles his teacup, dropping the bullet Murphy gave him. When McCann comes in, asking about her brother, he tries to play dumb, until she notices the bullet at her feet. Seeing it matches the gun, she knows Robert is involved somehow. Robert gives up Murphy, saying he is responsible, and that he had nothing to do with it. Robert goes for his gun, but McCann sees it, and shoots him in the head. His mother calls out to him, and McCann admits she killed him but doesn’t want to hurt her. Showing mercy to an old woman, McCann implores her to go back to her room and wait until she is gone. Grief stricken and terrified, Robert’s mother complies. McCann steals money from Robert’s desk and she drives off with McKenna and McGrath.

Murphy has dinner with Rita again. She gives him a book on gardening. Shortly after, Kevin arrives to tell him about Robert. They go to his house and his mother tells him a woman killed her son. After burning some evidence (and Kevin stealing some records) Murphy tells her to call the police.

McKenna goes into a store, posing as Murphy’s nephew, asking directions to his house. He passes by O’Shea and drives off. O’Shea notes to the shopkeeper that he didn’t know Murphy had a nephew.

McCann and the others break into Murphy’s house and wait.

Murphy and Kevin are driving back to his house when Murphy sees a light on. Realizing they are walking into a trap, he has Kevin park the car a distance away and they watch from a hill with a rifle. During the night, Kevin recounts how he was recruited by Robert as a killer after being seen in a bar fight. Kevin notes it was easy money to him and he just kept going. Murphy tells him he lost track of the number of people he killed. He was changed in the war, and returned home to his wife dead and not much else. Robert came to him and he kept killing.

Hours pass, and neither side makes a move. After McGrath deduces that Murphy knows they are in the house, McCann decides to “show him something.” She goes outside and starts breaking all the windows of Murphy’s car. Rita walks outside and notices. Murphy winces, and quietly begs her to go back inside. Rita walks up to McCann who calls her a noisy neighbor. She tells Rita to give Murphy a message as he done something “unforgiveable”. When Rita insults her, McCann knocks her out cold. McCann and the others drive off. Kevin and Murphy carry Rita back into her house and call her a doctor.

Kevin and Murphy go back to Kevin’s place. He has many records and a guitar. He speaks of one day writing his own music and living in California where it appears people are free and happy. Murphy notices ash of a newspaper in the fireplace and goes into town to buy a paper. Seeing an article on the bombing, he sees the faces of his enemy. He runs into O’Shea who speaks of Robert’s murder and Murphy’s “nephew.”

Murphy goes to Sinead’s house and looks in the barn where he sees their bomb making materials and a handful of grenades. He takes one.

At a local rugby match, McCann is facing a mutiny. The others want to flee before they are caught. McCann outright refuses, not wanting to give up the cause, nor leave before her brother is avenged. “Am I the only one who understands what we are fighting for?” she snarls. She looks around for Murphy, knowing he will show himself here.

Murphy sees her and tries to wait for her to exit a bathroom only for McCann to sneak up behind him with a gun. McCann tells Murphy she wants to know who ordered the hit. Murphy tries to note they are even with Robert dead, but McCann notes Curtis was her brother.

“Then you knew about his…tendencies,” Murphy quietly barks (alluding to the abuse of her niece). McCann flinches, obviously knowing but reasserts herself telling Murphy he needs to give up who ordered the hit. She tells him to meet him at the bar that night and if she isn’t satisfied she will blow it up with everyone inside. She will go after Rita, and anyone else he cares about.

Murphy goes home and gets ready for a battle. He meets with Kevin and tells him he will handle McCann alone. Kevin declines.

Murphy drives over to Sinead’s and gives Moya his cat, hedging his bets he will not make it out of his encounter with McCann alive. Noting he never gave the cat a name, Moya names him Sean. “It’s good to care, even if it hurts. It keeps you human,” Murphy says.

Outside the bar, Murphy preps. He gives Kevin a briefcase, with a letter and money for Robert’s mother. The rest of the money is for Kevin. Murphy wants him to leave and retire, immediately. Kevin balks and wants to help, but Murphy tells him that this is his war. Murphy tries to reason with him, telling him he should go to California, and live his dreams in peace and never have to pick up a gun again. Kevin seemingly agrees and drives off.

Murphy walks into the pub and takes a look around at his friends, his town. People he may never see again.

McCann, McKenna, and McGrath arrive. She tells them she will go in first. McGrath will follow with a bomb in a briefcase. If Murphy tries anything, they will blow up the bar.

O’Shea sits with Murphy. O’Shea knowingly asks if his “nephew” is still around. O’Shea says he knows Murphy doesn’t trade books for a living. He asks Murphy what he really does. Murphy says O’Shea doesn’t want to know. In the corner of his eye, Murphy sees Moya come into the bar and usher her and the cat out, not wanting her to be in the crossfire.

McGrath goes into the bar and sits down with the case. O’Shea goes out to smoke a cigarette. He sees McCann’s car and notices the scraped paint and realizes they destroyed the sign. He goes to sit down near McGrath, suspicious.

At the bar, McCann confronts Murphy, wanting the murderer of her brother. When he tries to take their discussion outside, McCann threatens to shoot him where he stands. As he is about to admit to acting alone, Kevin arrives once more and admits to being responsible (which is technically true as he delivered the kill shot to Curtis). As Kevin continues to mock her, McCann shoots him in the gut which sets off a chain reaction in the bar. People flee as Murphy trades shots with McCann and her men. O’Shea finds the bomb McGrath brought in and tries to run out with it, only to be tackled by McKenna.

McCann trades shots with Murphy who wounds McGrath. Kevin shoots McCann, wounding her badly. Kevin continues to bleed out and Murphy can only watch, sad and somewhat disappointed Kevin couldn’t stop himself and take his second chance. Kevin tells Murphy that he will see California before he does, just as McCann shoots Kevin in the head. She stumbles off, bloody.

Meanwhile, McGrath fights with Murphy, fighting over a knife and the grenade Murphy took. McGrath pulls the pin, but Murphy keeps the grenade together. Murphy forces McGrath’s knife into his throat, killing him. Finding the pin, he reinserts it back into the grenade. McKenna, having recovered the bomb, tries to throw the bomb into the bar, but Murphy shoots him. He drops the bomb at the doorway and doesn’t have time to throw it anywhere. The bomb explodes, incinerating him and damaging the bar, but hurting no one else.

Murphy goes outside and recovers his shotgun that McGrath had stolen. McCann shoots at him but uses her last bullet and misses. She stumbles off into a field. As he goes after her, he is confronted by O’Shea. Still, Murphy follows her.

The two wind up in the local church. McCann tells him to finish it, but he notes she is going to die anyway, so there is no point and to make her peace with God. McCann tells him that her conscience is clear, and God knows why she did the things she did. Murphy notes to her that he himself had made choices like her and has made his own peace with. Bleeding out, McCann becomes more vulnerable, and thinks of her brother. “My brother, he’s all alone,” she cries out sadly. Murphy promises that she will join him. McCann dies of her wounds.

Murphy drives her body out to the forest and buries her next to her brother, planting another new tree.

Murphy goes home and grabs a few belongings, realizing he no longer has a home in the village. He apologizes to Rita for the trouble he caused her and attempts to give back her book on gardening. Rita tells him to keep it, so he can try again wherever he is going next. They part on good terms.

O’Shea sees to that the sign for the town is repaired. Looking inside his cop car he sees a package. He realizes Murphy left him a gift. Opening it, he finds a book; Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. He smirks and smiles sadly as he opens the book to page one and begins to read.

Murphy leaves the village in Kevin’s car, hoping to find a modicum of peace in his final years.

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Finbar Murphy (Liam Neeson) is a hitman who has decided to retire and let the protégé of his boss, Kevin (Jack Gleeson) take over his contracts. However, when Murphy realizes a local young girl, Moya, is being abused by her uncle Curtis, Murphy decides to deal with him personally, killing him with Kevin’s help.

However, Curtis was the brother of IRA terrorist Doireen McCann (Kerry Condon) who had been laying low in the village after a bombing went horrifically wrong. After killing Murphy’s handler Robert (Colm Meaney) McCann demands the man who killed her brother from Murphy, or she will kill everyone he cares about.

After giving Kevin money to retire and leave contract killing for good, Murphy meets with McCann, ready to take responsibility. However, Kevin refuses to abandon him and admits to Curtis’ death, causing McCann to shoot him. A shootout occurs with McCann killing Kevin but not before he mortally wounds her. Murphy kills McCann’s fellow IRA members McGrath and McKenna, preventing them from killing any of the villagers.

Murphy confronts the dying McCann in a church, telling her to make her peace. She cries that her brother is alone, and Murphy promises to bury her with him. After she dies, he keeps his promise. Murphy leaves town the next day, knowing he put everyone in danger and he no longer has a home there. After making amends with his neighbor Rita (Niamh Cusack) and O’Shea (Ciarán Hinds), Murphy leaves the village in Kevin’s car, off to spend his remaining years in peace.