In Bruges – UK | USA, 2008 – reviews

‘Shoot first. Sightsee later..’

In Bruges is a 2008 British-American comedy crime feature film about two hitmen awaiting orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium.

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriSeven Psychopaths), the movie stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy and Elizabeth Berrington.

Plot:

London based hit men Ray and Ken are told by their boss Harry Waters to lie low in Bruges, Belgium for up to two weeks following their latest hit, which resulted in the death of an innocent bystander. Harry will be in touch with further instructions.

While they wait for Harry’s call, Ken, following Harry’s advice, takes in the sights of the medieval city with great appreciation. But the charms of Bruges are lost on the simpler Ray, who is already despondent over the innocent death, especially as it was his first job. Things change for Ray when he meets Chloe, part of a film crew shooting a movie starring an American dwarf named Jimmy.

When Harry’s instructions arrive, Ken, for whom the job is directed, isn’t sure if he can carry out the new job, especially as he has gained a new appreciation of life from his stay in the fairytale Bruges. While Ken waits for the inevitable arrival into Bruges of an angry Harry, who feels he must clean up matters on his own, Ray is dealing with his own …

New release:

On August 19, 2019, Second Sight Filmsreleased In Bruges as a limited edition Blu-ray with the following special features:

  • Six Shooter: Martin McDonagh’s Oscar-Winning Short Film in HD
  • Shoot First, Sightsee Later: A New Interview With Director of Photography Eigil Bryld
  • Finding the Rhythm: A New Interview With Editor Jon Gregory
  • Finding Bruges: A New Interview With Production Designer Michael Carlin
  • The Alcove Guy: A New Interview With Actor Eric Godon
  • When in Bruges – interviews with cast and crew and on-set footage
  • Strange Bruges interviews with cast and crew and on-set footage
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Boat Trip Around Bruges
  • Gag Reel
  • Optional English subtitles for the hard of hearing

Limited edition contents:

  • Rigid slipcase featuring new artwork by Thomas Walker
  • Faber and Faber screenplay with exclusive cover artwork by Thomas Walker
  • 50-page softcover book with new writing by Ian Christie, Dr Eamonn Jordan (author of From Leenane to LA: The Theatre and Cinema of Martin McDonagh) and Bomb Magazine archive interview with Martin McDonagh.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“In Bruges is one of the finest cult classics of recent times and deserves all the plaudits, it’s a fantastically refreshing take on the genre and just as fresh to watch now, more than 10 years since its release. Outstandingly filmed, perfectly performed and one to re-watch, time and again.” Dan Bullock, Critical Popcorn

“The core of the movie is the relationship between the two men, beautifully realized by Gleeson and Farrell, with dead-on dialogue from writer/director Martin McDonagh that is funny and offensive at the same time. A three week rehearsal period obviously paid off for the onscreen chemistry…” Tony Sullivan, Eye for Film

“Even if Ray detests his stay there, In Bruges does a marvelous job capturing the leisurely stroll of the city; perhaps more confident with locations than plotting. The film eventually gives way to a big-time shootout, showing some creative muscle rounding up the characters for the robust bit of endgame. It’s a nice finale, but at the tail of an increasingly dreary and unsteady dark comedy.” Brian Ondorf, FilmJerk

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“There aren’t any contrivances, no deus ex machina, just a bumpy ride towards the end. As a direct result of the brilliant characterisation, we feel as if we know what the characters would naturally do when they are or aren’t in a tricky situation. Everything about In Bruges just feels very real and incredibly fluid, it boggles the mind how little this movie resembles a movie, in the best way possible of course.” Movie Moore

“What this all boils down to is that if you enjoy movies which use swearing as part of the comedy then “In Bruges” is going to amuse as will the dark humour which punctuates it. But for me it just lacked that something extra to make it more than just a good movie which I enjoyed but feel no need to watch again.” Andy Webb, The Movie Scene

” …there are times of great sadness and poignancy, times of abandon, times of goofiness, and that kind of humor that is really funny because it grows out of character and close observation. Farrell, in particular, hasn’t been this good in a few films, perhaps because this time he’s allowed to relax and be Irish.” Roger Ebert

“The actors are spectacular. Farrell, following a sharp turn in Woody Allen’s dull-edged Cassandra’s Dream, gives a performance of ferocity and feeling. He’s got his mojo back. And Gleeson is a pleasure to watch, his face a road map to his character’s soul. The climax is admittedly bugf*ck, though Fiennes has a ball going plum off his nut. But In Bruges is a haunting and hypnotic movie, just the thing to get lost in.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

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“The flick is able to walk a tightrope in terms of tone as some hilarious moments are punctuated with depressing sadness and vice versa. Unfortunately, once Fiennes enters the picture, things sorta fizzle out. While his performance is full of blustering bravado, his character kinda ruins the enchanting mood writer/director Martin McDonagh had manage to create during the film’s first hour.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

“The ideas and sentiments expressed here are essentially banal. The director has made a film about other films and various pop culture influences, not about life. He doesn’t know anything about hitmen, any more than Quentin Tarantino does. In any event, McDonagh wants to have his cake and eat it too: he wants the “black humor” of a film about loquacious killers, then turn it into a serious meditation on their sense of guilt and sin.” David Walsh, World Socialist Web Site

Cast and characters:

  • Elizabeth Berrington … Natalie
  • Rudy Blomme … Ticket Seller
  • Olivier Bonjour … Film Director
  • Mark Donovan … Overweight Man
  • Ann Elsley … Overweight Woman #2
  • Colin Farrell … Ray
  • Jean-Marc Favorin … Policeman (as Jean Mark Favorin)
  • Ralph Fiennes … Harry
  • Brendan Gleeson … Ke
  • Eric Godon … Yuri
  • Zeljko Ivanek … Canadian Guy
  • Sachi Kimura … Imamoto
  • Anna Madeley … Denise
  • Louis Nummy … Harry’s Child #3
  • Clémence Poésy … Chloe
  • Ciaran Hinds … Priest [uncredited]

Technical details:

  • 107 minutes
  • Sound: Dolby Digital | DTS
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35: 1

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