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"In Bruges"

Directed by Martin McDonagh.
Written by Martin McDonagh.
Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Clémence Poésy and Ralph Fiennes.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  2/17/08


The action/comedy genre is truly tricky, but the import "In Bruges" manages to sidestep the normal landmines by delivering a funny, biting, violent film with three great leads and a surprisingly strong supporting cast.  And, it's set in a completely random town in Belgium.

Two London-based hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), are in Bruges, Belgium because their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes), sent them there to hide out after a recent hit left not only their target dead, but also an unintended fatality--a young boy.  Ray is a racist, seemingly heartless bastard, but he's new to this game of killing and even he recognizes that it was wrong to take out the kid, even if it was by accident.  Ken, the more seasoned of the two, maintains that the two men should keep a low profile in this quiet town until Harry tells them what to do next.  What follows is a random adventure in time killing, and that's not all the killing that gets done over the course of the days that the men are in Belgium.

What first got me about "In Bruges" was how funny the script by Oscar-winner Martin McDonagh is (he won a couple of years ago for Best Live Action Short); there are some really great moments, and anytime you can include some random midget (oops..."dwarf") moments in addition to just straight-up good laughs, you know you've got something to work with there.  But, it is the on-screen chemistry between Farrell and Gleeson that does most of the good work in "In Bruges"...then, the third-act addition of Fiennes makes it all come together.  Fiennes has been great for so long that we as Americans generally take him for granted now...but, when he's on (like "Schindler's List", or "Spider" or "The Constant Gardner"), he is fantastic.

But, the nickel players are also quite good here; how good?  The guy who plays the midget in this film, Jordan Prentice, starred as the Giant Bag of Weed in the seminal moment of the cult classic "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle"!!!!  Come on, can you beat that?  Seriously, the other two-lines-of-dialogue characters are all pretty good, and that makes a comedy that much more special.

The weakest parts of "In Bruges" typically deal with the action; it's violent, but not action-y enough.  A chase scene or a better shootout might have been nice, but hey, I didn't direct the thing, so this is a bit picky.  Also, having a faux-love-interest bit does nothing for "In Bruges", even if it is purely to advance the story.  (I could have done without it, myself.)  But otherwise, Meg, Ross and I all thought that "In Bruges" was a very good film, never aspiring to greatness but still might leave some viewers that way regardless.  Worth a look!

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09