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In Bruges (2008)

Shoot first. Sightsee later.

Directed by:

Martin McDonagh

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 107 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

I never got the whole sexy Colin Farrell craze—he just wasn’t my thing. I never found him that engaging in films, even. In Bruges changed that a little—I still won’t be putting his poster up on my wall or anything, but he’s great in this dark, dark hit men-on-holiday comedy. He doesn’t do it alone, though, and is joined by a wickedly clever script, a beautiful locale, and a supporting cast that has restored my faith in Ralph Fiennes.

Hit men Ray and Ken (Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) have been ordered by their boss (Fiennes) to take a two-week vacation in Bruges, Belgium after a job gone wrong. Directed to blend in and lay low, Ken quickly takes to the life of a tourist, but Ray, haunted by a tragic mistake—and by his disenchantment with the little town he’s being forced to hole up in—isn’t one for sightseeing or canal rides. It all comes down to waiting for the word they can return home to London, but when word comes, it’s not the word anyone was expecting, and it turns out somebody’s on a bad list.

For a movie with a murdered priest, a dead kid, a racist dwarf, and two hit men for leads, In Bruges is really pretty funny. Dark as hell, yeah, and lacking in any sense of political correctness, but funny. Farrell and Gleeson have a quick, comfortable buddy chemistry, and Fiennes redeems himself from his pointless turn in The Reader in his Hit Boss role, especially his “shootout” scene with Ray at the hotel. There are a few bits that turned me off, a few scenes that went on a bit too long, and yes, some jokes that fell flat instead of bearing out their provocative intent (some Jimmy stuff was good, some not so good). But just when something seems off, there’s a shot of Bruges—and I don’t know what Ray’s problem was, because I’m with Ken on this one. It really is like a fairytale place, and the town itself takes away any plot implausibility because, in Bruges, anything can happen. The story itself is original (not the hit men questioning their existence part, but all the shenanigans around them), and even with the comedy elements, manages to blend in the drama, action, and just a bit of romance so nicely that the whole film comes together as an hour and forty-five minutes or so that leave its audience feeling entertained—and that can be a rarity amongst shallow blockbusters and earnest but dull awards fare.

It's Got: The funny, Some lovely cinematography, Perfect casting.

It Needs: A little less time in the bell tower, A few rethinks on a joke or two.

DVD Extras Extended Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers: Gag Reel, Four Featurettes: “When in Bruges”; “Strange Bruges”; “A Boat Trip Around Bruges”; “F**cking Bruges” DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Pulp Fiction, True Romance, You Kill Me

Summary

One of the best films of the year that a lot of people still haven’t seen, this tale of two hit men trying to be tourists is a dark comedy of the darkest variety.

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