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In Bruges a Great Tourist Destination

Published February 8, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Focus Features.
In Bruges Poster In Bruges
It took me a while to get In Bruges. I was ready to write it off but I'm glad I stuck it out because it turns out to be the first great film of 2008.

Review: In Bruges


At first it seems like the movie is just two criminals bumming around the city going sight seeing. That's as boring as Ray (Colin Farrell) says, even with the entertaining sarcasm. There are some funny incidents like fighting fat tourists, which is ironic because they were actually being thoughtful and the tourists kind of harassed them.

The question becomes: Is this an Irish Tarantino knock-off? They get distracted by inane tangents and follow them more fully than their mission. Most of the sidetracks are inappropriate, yet totally sincere. Still, I felt like I could turn it off and come back for more later, if only I were renting it on DVD.

They repeat the name Bruges a lot too, like a David Mamet script. Where are we? In Bruges. Bruges sucks. What sucks? Bruges. In Bruges, things are different. Different where? In Bruges.

Somewhat early on we see Ray's backstory. At first it seems like it's not as shocking as it's supposed to be. The aftermath is worse, but it's kind of the target's fault for not just taking it like a man. Yeah, I'm so jaded, one controversial death isn't enough for me. Anyway, now we know why Ray is the way he is.



It's at this point that all the random tangents find their place. If this were just some generic guilty hitman movie, they'd just brood about their feelings. Instead, they spend most of their time fulfilling inane conversations as a roundabout way to get somewhere simple. Outrageous justifications from earlier start paying off. Now it's time to spin all the previous references positively, so I'll call it an Irish Tarantino caper scripted like David Mamet.

They still fulfill somewhat typical crime movie beats, but here the drug fueled rants are more clever than usual. Childish arguments in the world of death and violence are more poignant than trying to be witty. The film explores the standard hitman story with wit, keeping things unpredictable. Witty and unpredictable, not a bad combo.

It's got the right perspective on blame, fault and responsibility. The exasperated evaluation of noble complications is like an answer to all the pretentious hitman movies that try to be deeper than they actually are. Little elements continue to pay off subtly.

By the time it resolves in action, the whole film has been so unpredictable that anything could happen. In Bruges is Colin Farrell's best movie and finally an original hitman drama.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Focus Features.
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