Netflix UK film review: In Bruges
Ivan Radford | On 01, Dec 2017
Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes
Watch In Bruges online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
After the deliciously dark short Six Shooter, director Martin McDonagh teamed up with Brendan Gleeson again for this delightfully warped thriller. It’s not hard to see why: if Gleeson’s gruff delivery is superbly downbeat, his face is a work of art. Grimacing and snorting with derision, his imposing figure ambles through McDonagh’s depressing, twisted world with the world visibly on his shoulders.
Joining him is Colin Farrell. Reminding us all why he’s such a brilliant actor, he plays Ray, colleague of fellow hitman, Ken (Gleeson). They’ve been told to go to Bruges. Where’s that? Belgium, apparently. Why would anyone want to go there? Let’s asks Harry (Fiennes), our resident psychotic hitman. Out Ben Kingsley-ing Sir Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast, he lists the canals, cobbled streets, old buildings… “The whole fookin’ place is a fookin’ fairy tale,” he snarls.
Ray sees things differently. After shooting a priest and a kid, he and Ken have been exiled to Bruges to lay low for a bit, do some sightseeing, and stay out of trouble. Ken might like the culture, climbing the towers, eating in the restaurants, but Ray sure as hell doesn’t. “There’s two things Belgium is famous for: chocolate and child abuse. And we all know that they invented chocolate to get to the kids,” he whines. Then adds: “If I’d grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me, but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.” He complains and moans while smoking his life away, but then all of a sudden spots something exciting: a film shoot involving a tiny actor. Or, as he puts it: “Look! They’re filming midgets!”
Mooching around the winding back streets and angering the tourists, the two guns for hire bicker like children. Sparking off each other with electric timing, their dialogue is fiercely funny. It might seem like Tarantino-lite, but McDonagh injects his own character into proceedings: bringing more tension to cobblestones than Corrie or Don’t Look Now, his camera eerily drifts over the foggy waters, dodging bullets and capturing tears with a knack for the aesthetic and the profound.
When Harry enters the scene, the pace escalates into bloody violence. Storming round Belgium with a grudge and a gun, he wreaks vengeance with a sense of justice – and little other sense in his head. Farrell, on the other hand, manages to make his guilt-wracked assassin at once loathsome and vulnerable, as he spouts politically incorrect insults at everyone around him. Peopled by a stellar cast, McDonagh’s vibrant, murky world diverts throughout, even when it takes time out to wallow in philosophy and feed people horse tranquilisers. This is brilliantly sick entertainment of the highest order.
In Bruges is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.