Veronica Guerin

People who aren’t journalists sometimes wonder what motivates the people who are. It’s not the money, clearly; you can tell from the way newspaper reporters dress that they don’t make much. It’s not fame, which usually eludes your average reporter, except when he or she misbehaves and achieves infamy instead. So what is it?

“Veronica Guerin” has ample opportunities to address this issue, but neglects them. The real Veronica Guerin, played here with panache and grit by the fantastic Cate Blanchett, was murdered in 1996 by the drug kingpins she was investigating for the Dublin Independent. She knew her story was dangerous, but she proceeded anyway. Why? I don’t know. If the movie knows, it has chosen not to tell us.

Why would you make a biopic about someone that showed only her actions, without attempting to show us what drove her to them? Again, I don’t know.

But Joel Schumacher, that unpredictable and often laudable director of everything from “St. Elmo’s Fire” to “Batman & Robin,” has done just that, leading Blanchett to a firecracker performance in a movie that is mere piffle.

The details of Veronica’s investigation, her dogged determination to bring all the facts to light, her descent into many dangerous situations in Dublin’s underworld — all of this makes for a mildly interesting drama, as far as it goes. But it only goes so far, and it relies on that oldest of clichés: the criminal mastermind who discusses all his nefarious doings in front of his girlfriend. Even a bad journalist could have given you pointers on how to write that plot element differently.

C (1 hr., 32 min.; R, a lot of harsh profanity, some strong violence.)