A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Defense of the Realm" is a newspaper thriller about a touchy investigation into British security matters. The story ends the way many newspaper stories end - inconclusively - but the movie ends with a shocking event that suggests the British and their U.S. allies would do anything to defend the American nuclear presence in the U.K.
The movie stars Gabriel Byrne as a young, ambitious newspaper reporter who covers a scandal involving a member of Parliament who has the bad judgment to patronize the same call girl used by a KGB agent.
Is he a security risk, or does he only seem to be one? Byrne's paper doesn't ask too many questions before putting the story on Page 1 and forcing the politician's resignation.
But there's an older, more experienced hand at the newspaper - a veteran political reporter played by Denholm Elliott, that most dependable and believable of British character actors. He believes the M.P. may have been framed by people who wanted to silence his embarrassing questions in Parliament. Byrne half-listens to him, and halfway wants to go with the story just because it's so spicy. Upstairs on the executive floor, the proprietor of the paper likes the scandal because it increases circulation.