The “fairytale” town of Bruges, Belgium is the backdrop to this week’s 52 Pick-Up choice, In Bruges. In Bruges follows Ray and Ken, played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, two hit men sent to Bruges by their employer Harry, played by Ralph Fiennes, to lay low after the shocking outcome of Ray’s first hit assignment. The disdain for Bruges, and all things Belgium for that matter, that Ray holds is countered by Ken’s love and appreciation for the small town’s history and culture. This turns Ken into more of a chaperone on a field trip with Ray, whose childish outbursts are compared to those of “a five year throwing a moody because he dropped his sweats,” rather than partners trying to lay low. While sight-seeing the two stumble across a movie set that is, as Ray calls it, “filming midgets,” where Ray meets the only salvaging part of their forced trip to Bruges in Chloe, played by Clemence Poesy. The tourist fun in Bruges is cut short after the decisions made by the duo of hit men cause Harry to make the trip to Bruges to settle what he calls “a matter of honor” between himself and Ken.
Maybe my set up for In Bruges hasn’t sold you on watching it yet, but trust me, this is a movie that is a must see. To be honest, the more you don’t know about In Bruges going into it, the better the movie experience will be for you. All you need to know is that In Bruges is a movie you need to watch, and if you haven’t yet, you’re fucking up. From script to direction to cast, the movie is a solid 9 across the boards. Colin Farrell brings a childish quirkiness to Ray that plays perfectly across Brendan Gleeson’s Obi Wan of hit men, bringing In Bruges some great scenes between the two that will have you rolling. And, holy shit, is Ralph Fiennes a phenomenal villain. He plays Harry with such a, as called in the movie, “c__ntish” excellence that even at his worst he’s amazing to watch. If you were to ask me which actors within the past 5 years I would cast in a movie as sinister villains my top two answers would be Christoph Waltz, for his roles in Inglourious Basterds and The Green Hornet, and Ralph Fiennes. Even Clemence Posey holds her own alongside these Hollywood veterans, but my favorite character is the midget actor, “dwarf” as he likes to be called, Jimmy, played by Jordan Prentice, who was one of the actors who played Howard the Duck.
There’s a video game comparison that I like use as a gauge on the tone of things: on one hand you have the Madden NFL game franchise, that is close to riding on the shoulders of your favorite NFL star, and on the other you have the Blitz franchise, which is an over-the-top depiction of the game of football that has no grounds in reality. Now, while both are good and enjoyable to play, there is a clear line that is drawn in the reality and tone, which can easily help in describing the differences between two similar things. To give an example of this logic, films like Shoot ‘Em Up and Shaun of the Dead would be your Blitz types while films like Die Hard and Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout are your Madden types. In Bruges, to me, is the Madden version of the Blitz style, like Hot Fuzz. Hot Fuzz is a comedy that poses as an action cop flick, while taking a more comical and over the top style in its action and death scenes. In the same way, In Bruges is a brilliantly written comedy that holds its own up against any crime thriller while grounding its comedy and action in a more adult and realistic tone. In Bruges is hilarious in a very un-PC style that will make you want to hit rewind, keeping you laughing each time. There were even scenes in In Bruges that floored me more than in Hot Fuzz.
In Bruges was brilliantly written and directed by award winning writer/director Martin McDonagh, who kind of looks like Stifler’s dad. McDonagh’s previous work was the 2004 short film Six Shooter, for which McDonagh won an Oscar for “Best Short Film, Live Action” and is one that I will be adding to my 52 Pick-Up list. He was also nominated for an Oscar in the category of “Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen” for In Bruges, but lost to 2008’s Milk, starring Sean Penn. Martin McDonagh’s work is solid and, based solely off of In Bruges, I would see anything that this man has done or will do in the future. The dialogue is dark and witty and plays superbly along with his directing style making In Bruges a near perfect film.
In Bruges is another movie that I was fortunate enough to pick up at a great price on one of my many trips to Blockbuster and has sat on my shelf begging to be watched. It was also one of the first recommendations, and rightfully so, in the 52 Pick-Up forum by the PoP!ulaton’s very own Joshua, whose recommendation read as:
I would like to throw In Bruges up as a nomination for unconventional Christmas movies to watch during the holiday season. If you dig In Bruges, I would also recommend you to check out the crime thriller Way of the Gun starring Ryan Phillippe and Benicio Del Toro, which was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who is best known for writing The Usual Suspects.
The bottom line on In Bruges is that you need to watch this movie. Right now. Don’t rent it, buy it.