before you go into this movie, prepare yourself. take a deep breath, because you are about to see what is possibly the greatest irish film of all time. the recent spate of irish directors have either completely sold out to the hollywood system (john moore; behind enemy lines, flight of the phoenix, the omen remake) or are sticking to the irish, low-budget and sometimes low-quality system (paddy breathnach; shrooms, mark mahon; strength and honour). but with martin mcdonagh, we may finally have a breath of fresh air. having already bagged an oscar in 2006 for his short film six shooter, he used this leverage to get this small film produced. in it, colin farrell and brendan gleeson are two hitmen hiding out in bruges after a job goes very, very badly. now, i’m sure i’m not alone when i say the world was getting weary of colin farrell, especially during that period from 2002 to 2005 when it seemed like he was in a new film every friday. so the relative lack of big screen presence he’s had lately works wonders for him here, because the character he’s playing in this movie is just barely a shade above absolutely reprehensible. telling very un-p.c. jokes about just about every minority you can think of, to punching a woman square in the face (not the first time he’s done this on screen, either), the fact that farrell is still likeable come the big finale is down to his rather unique blend of upper-class charisma and blue-collar slobiness. brendan gleeson, too, is very good here, finally breaking free of whatever had him trapped playing the same role in too many ancient epics. and ralph fiennes, while showing up rather late in proceedings, almost runs away with the film, doing his best impersonation of ben kinglsey in sexy beast. but there are some down points. while the trailer would have you believe its a bad-mouthed, fish out of water dark comedy, there are some very serious moments thrown into the mix, along with some of the most hideously realistic violence you’ll have seen in cinema in years. its this back and forth between cartoonish comedy (colin farrell karate chopping a racist dwarf while high on cocaine) and the all too real drama at the core of the film (the actual reason why the duo are hiding out may turn a few stomachs) is sometimes handled very well, sometimes not. yet despite this, its still a highly entertaining film, and finally the irish have someone to compare against guy richie. y’know, back when he was good.
eight out of ten.