a critiQal film review In Bruges (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: After a difficult job in London, hitmen Ray (Farell) and Ken (Gleeson) are sent to the city of Bruges, Belgium to hide out until their boss, Harry (Fiennes), contacts them. But the longer they wait for Harry's call, the more surreal their experience becomes, as they find themselves in weird encounters with locals, tourists, violent medieval art, a dwarf American actor (Prentice) shooting a European art film, Dutch prostitutes, and a potential romance for Ray in the form of Chloe (Poesy), who may have some dark secrets of her own.

565 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 49s)

From the previews, In Bruges looked to be an original comedic film about a couple of hitmen totally out of their element. True, a dark side to the picture was hinted at, but the previews mainly focused on the comedy. It seemed like a little picture for the likes of Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, but definitely sounded like fun.

Still, we didn’t get to check it out in theaters, and had almost forgotten about it by the time it hit DVD. Once we noticed it was on DVD, however, we figured we’d give it a shot. Would it be a comedic high point for Farrell & Co., or would In Bruges take us somewhere we really didn’t want to go?

Colin Farrell, who has managed to hold his own with the likes of a pre-Katie Holmes Tom Cruise () AND Al Pacino () – not to mention having some fun as an over-the-top villain in – has shown viewers time and time again he can act.

With most of his resume, though, his character is all about being in control. If he’s not in control, that’s his main goal; if he is in control, he’s planning on staying that way. In Bruges takes him totally out of his element, putting him in a situation where he has no control – and doesn’t actually want any either.

It’s a much different character than viewers expect to see Colin portray, and he pulls it off with appeal. His character Ray is brash, straightforward and totally crass – yet Colin manages to make the character likable nonetheless. Like Fiennes’ and Gleeson’s characters, Ray is a hitman – yet he still evokes an innocence the viewer can easily connect to.

Gleeson’s character, on the other hand, is more of the mentor/father figure to Colin’s Ray. Gleeson’s Ken has a world-weary air about him, and the viewer can tell he’s very protective of the younger Ray. Ken tries his best to keep Ray sheltered from the real world – an odd idea since they are both hitmen. Still, Gleeson manages to make the character work. Farrell and Gleeson mesh well together on-screen, and the film is much better because of it.

Ralph Fiennes, the big boss of the operation, isn’t exactly the typical gangster type either. Despite a violent temper and a glee in brandishing weapons (both common in movie gangsters), he also tries to balance that out with a rather moralistic code of honor and a family life. Once again, it’s an odd mix, but Ralph does a decent job bringing the character to life.

Despite it’s comical previews, In Bruges is much coarser and more violent than what the viewer may expect going in. It’s got it’s moments of high comedy, but they – like the peaceful-looking town of Bruges, Belgium – are interspersed with the rather more violent tendencies of these three hitmen.

It’s definitely original – but may not be for all people. If you’re planning on checking this one out, make sure to keep the kids away – the language alone makes it unsuitable for younger ears, and, thanks to a few incredibly violent scenes, the visuals aren’t much better.

For those of you who don’t need to flash ID to get into an R-rated movie, however, In Bruges – with it’s unique mix of humor, violence and quirkiness – is worth a look.

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