"Harry, its an inanimate f*****g object."
"You're an inanimate f*****g object!!"
Where do you send two Irish hitmen after a bungled job? Bruges of course! Martin Mcdonagh's Belgian set feature length debut opens with a brief explanation from Ray (Colin Farrell), one of the duo, who tells of being sent to Bruges after their intended hit goes badly wrong. He is soon joined by Ken (Brendan Gleeson), Ray's partner-in-crime, completing the double act: straight man/funny man. Ray jitters around like a fidgety kid, protesting at having to stay in the Belgian city, claiming it to be boring. He's too cocky to play tourist and appreciate the sights, preferring to get drunk. That is, if he can forget about the screwup thats playing on his mind. Ken, being somewhat older than Ray, is more appreciative of the surroundings, in his deadpan way. But, he is also entrusted with keeping Ray on a leash while waiting for the all important phone call from The Boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes) which may ultimately decide their future.
Harry travels to Bruges from London, preferring a more hands-on approach in dealing with his bumbling assasins. Without giving away too much, friendship, loyalty, honour and principles are all put to the test as the film races towards its dark conclusion. In Bruges is a sombre yet humourous affair, the comedy elements mainly provided by Ray and the various oddball characters he encounters. Farrell does well in this role, displaying a knack for comedy timing. A natural performance, Farrell seems more than comfortable in these smaller roles. Ray's character acts as a conduit for many of the views put across in the film, expressing a disdain for Belgians, dwarves, Americans and what he describes as "gay beer." Brendan Gleeson is reliable as ever as the world-weary Ken, providing opinions to counter-balance Ray's venom.
However, who really shines through the most is Ralph Fiennes, as gangster boss Harry, having obvious fun with the role. Echoing the performance of Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast, his cockney swagger has a real nastiness to it, particularly during a phone conversation with Ken. His dull line of questioning quickly turns menacing, becoming short and sharp with effortless intensity.
Following in the footsteps of such darkly comic idiosyncratic killer in exile flicks such as The Matador, You Kill Me and The Baker, Mcdonagh's film will not be to everyones tastes, although he does inject a bit of life into a well-worn genre. The hitman on film - a perennial celluloid figure - always falling out with The Boss, occasionally having to deal with a young rookie, and usually having some kind of quirk. Sure, you've seen it before, but this time we have a great script and some interesting performances to set it apart from the rest. There are elements that stayed with me, both tragic and funny, perfectly embodied in the form of a racist, Ketamine-snorting dwarf that features prominently in this film. You'll especially love him.