A pair of hitmen, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) have been sent to Bruges by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes). We learn that they are waiting for instructions following their last job which involved Ray shooting a priest, and accidentally killing a boy who is standing behind the priest when the last shots are fired. Wracked with guilt, Ray can’t live with what he has done. Bruges does little to distract him, until he meets Jimmy (Jordan Prentice) and Chloe (Clémence Poésy), the girl he hopes to woo.
It’s all funny and enjoyable. I suppose it’s realistic that a professional hitman would be quite good in a fight – Ray hits a Canadian and his wife in a restaurant when they complain about Chloe blowing cigarette smoke in their faces.
The plot is suitably interesting – nothing too epic, but enough to engage you. For me the most painful moment in terms of storytelling is when Ray manages to not be ripped off by Chloe’s boyfriend who wields a gun containing blanks. Ray then finds the real bullets for the gun and takes it away with him – we later learn because he intends to shoot himself because of the guilt he feels from killing the boy. The thing is, it’s such an artificial moment in the plot that it’s hard to ignore, and I found myself temporarily unable to suspend disbelief.
In terms of acting I think Brendan Gleeson is the most believable character. He seems the most real – when he says things you’re not focusing on the actor – the character he is playing is really there. Maybe it’s something to do with the eyes – great film actors have a world of depth behind their eyes, they can say so much with great economy.
Of course Ralph Fiennes is fantastic, but I really feel he’s an actor waiting for his next epic role – someone who could so easily pick up an Oscar at some stage, but alas not for this film. I think it’s just a matter of time.
I was left with a mixture of emotions after watching this film. I rented it, but it’s a film I would be happy to own on DVD – I would watch it again, but probably not too frequently (by contrast, I can watch Ronin and Layer Cake every three to six months no problem). It’s a good example of the idea that you can generally make a film from a short story – you don’t usually need a complex novel as your starting point because there’s not enough time to convey all the twists and turns. I felt that it was generally quite real and believable – such as when Ray has to accept the reason he manages to pick up Chloe is not that he’s a great lover, but that she plans to rip him off.
Full cast list: Susan Ateh, Olivier Bonjour, Ann Elsley, Sachi Kimura, Ran Yaniv, Michael Bennett, Robbie Kay, Bonnie Witney, Theo Stevenson, Jean-Marc Favorin, Clemence Poesy, Ciaran Hinds, Emily Thorling, Thekla Reuten, Jérémie Renier, Angel Witney, Anna Madeley, Stephanie Carey, Zeljko Ivanek, Jordan Prentice, Ralph Fiennes, Eric Godon, Rudy Blomme, Louis Nummy, Elizabeth Berrington, Mark Donovan, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Jamie Edgell and Inez Stinton.