Mar 18, 2008
Boy, the trailer for this hitmen-out-of-water flick sure looked hysterical. And don't get me wrong, all of the funny bits from the trailer are in the movie, and most of them are pretty funny. Unfortunately, the movie isn't a comedy, really, just a tragedy with jokes that often seem thrown in as an afterthought.
Ray (Colin Ferrell) has recently performed (and botched) his first job as a hitman. Ken (Brendon Gleeson) has been ordered by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to take Ray to Bruges, Belgium, to await further instructions.
Ken quite enjoys the sights of Bruges, which is a lovely tourist town full of old churches, canals, swans, and so on. Ray couldn't be more miserable -- he's bored beyond belief and has no interest in any institutions that don't serve alchohol.
Eventually, the "further instructions" come via phone from Harry, in one of the film's better scenes. I won't elaborate, because it's a major plot point, but I will say that it didn't take much deductive reasoning to figure out what those instructions were going to be.
And that's basically the movie's problem: it thinks it's much more clever than it really is.
Well, that's one problem. Another problem is that all three of the major roles are, to varying degrees, miscast. While Gleeson is very good in his role, it seems incongruous for him to make a very sincere speech about respecting Fiennes character as if he was some kind of role model, considering Fiennes is several years younger than Gleeson (and appears much younger in the film). It just seemed that Fiennes and Gleeson should have had each other's roles.
Age is also problematic in the case of Farrell, whose character seems intended to be very young. Colin Farrell isn't exactly old, but he has limited believability as a fresh young punk who just performed his first hit.
It seemed to me that the movie had no idea what it was trying to be. It's funny in parts and sad in others, but it never strikes much of a balance between the two. The botched hit that so haunts Ray is truly awful and tragic, and the ends to which certain characters come are likewise tragic, but it's peppered with jokes that don't so much defuse the grimness as deflate it.
Certain scenes, including virtually all scenes featuring Gleeson and Fiennes together, are quite good. Farrell has trouble with some of the mournful moments his character goes through, though he is generally very good in the lighter bits.
It is important to note, however, that the film commits a heinous crime by only featuring Ciarán Hinds in a one minute cameo. What the hell, man?