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The opening sequence of Veronica Guerin demonstrates something that most informed viewers already know: The film’s title character was assassinated. Having dispensed with the what, director Joel Schumacher and scripters Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue might be expected to focus on the why. Instead, this stylishly appointed but merely functional biopic concentrates on the most Hollywood-ish aspect of the story: Guerin’s charisma.It’s a character study of a woman who’s charming, smart, and empathetic buthere’s the only smidgen of nuancea little bit frightened when people start shooting at her. Native Dubliner Guerin (Cate Blanchett) moves from PR work to feature writing to investigative reporting. Writing in the mid-’90s for the Sunday Independent, Ireland’s top-circulation newspaper, she tries to expose secretive big-time dealer John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley) and others among Dublin’s leading crooks. Although several attempts to intimidate Guerin fail, she’s eventually shot to death. As a result, Irish laws were changed and some previously untouchable dealers were busted. Yet anyone watching the movie for tips on how to reveal a shadowy criminal will be disappointed. Unsurprisingly, Veronica Guerin goes easy on the grunt work of investigative journalism. Rather than spend days analyzing documents, Guerin just goes to heedlessly chatty brothel owner John Traynor (Ciaran Hinds) and the cops and brashly demands info. She also slips into Gilligan’s estate (that’s trespassing in most countries) to bait him with questions he’s obviously not going to answer (that’s stupid anywhereat least take a photographer to get pictures of the resulting assault). Tantalizingly but inconclusively, the film has Guerin rush into print a false accusation based on a lone (and obviously self-serving) source, and it shows other journalists in a bar laughing at her lack of professionalism. Was Guerin a bad reporter whose death accomplished what her writing couldn’t? It wouldn’t be fair to draw that conclusion on the basis of this fictionalized account, but what’s striking about Veronica Guerin is that the filmmakers apparently don’t care one way or the other. What seems to matter to Schumacher and his collaborators is that Guerin was cool, likable, and, well, macho. Thus the film’s crucial scene involves not journalists or criminals but a loutish soccer fan played by Colin Farrell (who starred in Schumacher’s Tigerland and Phone Booth). When Farrell assumes that Guerin doesn’t know who a famed player is and she does, he’s very impressedand we’re supposed to be, too. So was Guerin woman enough to change the world after all? Hell, yes: She knew about sports. Mark Jenkins