This stylish black comedy thriller stars Ralph Fiennes as Harry, a vicious London crime-boss who sends his two hit-men to the picturesque Belgian city of Bruges - to lay low and wait for orders. While Ken is happy just to sight-see, his fast-talking partner Ray sets-out for adventure. Before long, Ray is experiencing hilariously surreal encounters with tourists, skinheads, dwarves and prostitutes! When at last the call comes from Harry, the fun turns to a life-and-death struggle of darkly comic proportions.
It's quite an impression that writer-director Martin McDonagh made with his debut feature in crafting a gangster movie that's quite refreshing, taking a closer examination of what hitmen do when they're sent away in hiding after a hit job gone awry. There's plenty of black comedy here, coupled with some insane episodic moments that the characters find themselves in, while handling the usual themes of brotherhood, friendship and the likes.
In Bruges is set in, well, the medieval town of Bruges in Belgium, where hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) find themselves stuck in after being ordered by their boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) to take refuge there for a job that Ray had botched a little with an unnecessary killing that's part of an accidental collateral damage.
So when you're stuck in a new place, the most normal thing to do is to explore it like tourists, which Ken is looking forward very much, except that the guilt-ridden Ray wears his brooding emotion on his sleeve, and threatens to be a wet blanket every step of the way when trekking around town. Add to that the arguments they share on just about everything under the sun, and some hilarious scenes involving a dwarf actor (Jordan Prentice) with some crazy race relations issues, a beautiful drug pusher (Clemence Poesy) who also runs a racket fleecing tourists she beds, and episodic ones at the base of the bell tower dealing with weight issues, and one in a restaurant involving second hand smoke, and so on.
Much of the entertainment came from the insane lines of dialogue peppered with so much vulgarities that the DVD makers just had to compile every utterance of it in a special feature in itself. In conversation, everything is fair game for insults, and political correctness gets thrown out of the window. And it does help that Farrell and Gleeson trade banter like seasoned hands, and Fiennes upping the ante when he unfortunately gets to waltz into the film only after some one hour into it.
Not to forget too that this film has some amazing scenes of violence. Despite being rated M18 and edited (as the advisory on the front cover pointed out honestly), there are still a number of such scenes left intact, what with bullet wounds and mangled bodies that the camera does linger on just enough for you to take it all in. The blood and gore are visually arresting to say the least, but doesn't take away the focus on the characters here who are your quintessential bad guys in general, but have good natured streaks in them. Those who can't stand act cute antics would have to be warned of Farrell's constant throwing of tantrums early in the movie, only to be evenly balanced by Gleeson's more mature character, and Fiennes' Harry just happens to be somewhere in the middle, venting child like frustrations onto his unfortunate victims.
If you'd ever wonder what gangster do when they are voluntarily exiled to wait out the attention given to them after a hit job is done, then perhaps In Bruges will clue you in and tickle your funny bone as well.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This film has enough material in its Deleted and Extended Scenes(18:20) section to allow the film to cross the 2 hour mark, but thankfully removed or shortened to improve its pace. There's no commentary on why these were removed, but after watching them you can guess as much. Some 20 scenes got deleted and 2 scenes shortened, and you'll spend some time going through scenes which got Farell's Ray throwing some tantrums, more scenes exploring Bruges as a town, plenty of talk about drinking, and even a sex scene shorn off! But a flashback scene that explains the friendship between Fiennes' Harry and Gleeson's Ken has to be seen for what would probably be the most violent scene in the whole movie should it be left intact. Most of it had proper post-production done, except for 1 deleted scene.
The Gag Reel runs for almost 6 minutes and contains the usual screw ups in lines, props, some technical issues like microphone feedback and the likes.
Writer-director Martin McDonagh talks about how he first fell in love with the town Bruges in When in Bruges (13:49) and how his mixed experience resulted in the two lead characters in the film, which get discussed in more detail, together with other characters, by various cast members and the crew. Something like a character study by those involved in making the film.
Nothing's strange in Strange Bruges (7:27), which is a tribute by the cast and crew as they rave about the small medieval town with its fantastic architecture that transports you back to a bygone era, and how it serves as one huge movie set to be in.
The sightseeing continues with A Boat Trip Around Bruges (5:40) which is as what the title says, as if you're sitting on a boat and idly wandering around the canals in Bruges exploring the sights and sounds on offer, with some history of the town and its landmarks scrolling across the screen in a ticker-tape fashion.
And the bonus features section ends off with something hilarious and irrelevant with F**king Bruges (1:35) where every single bit of swear and curse words get strung together in a short clip. Think of it as listening to Christian Bale letting it all rip through his potty mouth. .
Pristine anamorphic widescreen transfer to bring the gorgeous landscapes in Bruges to life. Audio comes in 5.1 Dolby Digital which provides that extra oomph when the handguns get deployed for the hit jobs.
by Stefan Shih