British director/writer Martin McDonagh brings us his second movie in four years. Following on from Six Shooter (a movie I haven't seen yet but judging from what I have read about it, it seems to be in a similar vein in style and substance as In Bruges, of which in my opinion would make him and up and coming Guy Richie wannabe) It is a gently paced Irish/British gangster flick set in Bruges, where two hit men are sent and awaiting instructions from their crime Boss. That is the simple layout of this slick little independent movie, that starts off quite slow and with it's excessive use of shaky handheld shots makes it quite hard to get into, but given 20 minutes you soon find where you are with the humour and relationship between the two central leads, Farrell as Ray the slightly slow and new to the business hit man and the ever brilliant and sturdy Brendan Gleeson as Ken the wise and seasoned veteran.
The back story for the characters unravels at a slow but intriguing pace and is a solid idea and adds to quite a nice amount of depth to the main characters. A few funny set pieces and sub plots help to liven things up until the plot thickens, if predictably, to why the guys are actually in Bruges. At this point, we are introduced to The crime boss, Harry, played enjoyably and completely over the top by Ralph Fiennes. The movie picks up pace here as it speeds along to it's climatic violent conclusion.
Throughout the movie, I started to feel I was watching something that was very special indeed, McDonagh has a brilliant sense of humour in the same style of Ritchie and Tarrantino and some of the intial scenes are laugh out loud funny and made a perfect bitter sweet mix blended with the touching back story. The main highlight of the movie for me was how blown away I was by Farrell's performance, he nails the character, the young and willing criminal that doesn't quite have the streetwise mind yet and is pretty doomed form the start, a character that is almost obligatory in a gangster movie, has never been as perfectly polished as it is here rounded with McDonagh's clever wit and Farrell's pitch perfect performance.
The only let down is the main plot, of which moments before the climax, becomes completely obvious and not half as clever and thrilling as it is set out to be but extremely violent and a tad silly. You realise that while you were enjoying and getting into the main characters and their shenanigans this clunckly collection of ingredients had shamelessly been added to the mix one by one serving no real depth or purpose other than solely for their turn in the movies final scene "twist". A whole character, his clothes and quotes mentioned all come together so predictably and and totally implausibly that it really does shave a lot of the movies strengths off in the closing moments.
Still, it is a pretty decent watch if you aren't too offended by excessive bad language and occasionally bloody and shocking violence. This still stands as a success simply because it is only McDonagh's second picture so he clearly has lots and lots of room to grow and that is an exciting thought.
In Bruges "Superb casting and at times a very strong and brilliant script, let down by a very shoddy and over worked out plot climax, this is definitely worth a watch for Farrell's best performance to date, alone"