Colin Farrell raises eyebrows, belly laughs and sympathy in Martin McDonagh's debut feature. Loneliness and atonement are familiar themes for the hit man flick (See The Matador, The Bourne Trilogy), but Farrell's assured performance lifts this one above the routine, the consequences of his career choice pushing him fitfully towards an inevitable meltdown. Some might consider opting for high-calibre drama over whiz-bang action a risky venture, but McDonagh ensures that his film packs enough emotional ammunition to make it a sure-fire hit.
When a job goes wrong for fledgling trigger man Ray (Colin Farrell), he and weary colleague Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are packed off to Bruges to lie low and await the wrath of their boss Harry (played with stony malignance by Ralph Fiennes). Once there, Ray wrestles with guilt over his actions, but also makes the time to find fault in the medieval architecture, overweight Americans, sniffy Canadians and a racially obsessed dwarf. The story gets weirder and weirder but is never short on intrigue or laugh out loud moments, as Ray and Ken avoid the ire of the big boss while getting in a bit of light tourism.
"HITS MOST OF ITS TARGETS DEAD ON"
Given its setting, it's hardly surprising that In Bruges isn't a rollercoaster ride of rootin' shootin' action. The focus on slow-burning drama is a good substitute though, and minor pacing issues aside, the film hits most of its targets dead on. Farrell's performance in particular is revelatory, and when his interplay with Gleeson's character is in the sights, the mix of comedy and pathos consistently find their mark.
In Bruges is out in the UK on 18th April 2008.