In Bruges - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

In Bruges Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2015
A bit too violent, but otherwise, fantastic plot.
Super Reviewer
½ February 8, 2008
Two hitmen idle for awhile in the quaint Belgium city of Bruges, known for still being the most medieval of places remaining in Europe, cooling off after a hit gone bad in London. What're two cosmopolitan London gangster types to make of the quiet ancient town?
Brendan Gleesan is always grade "A" good, and what accolade is left for Ralph Fiennes to garner? But Colin Farrell? Here is a major talent and yet somehow frequently overlooked. I don't understand it. This picture rides on his performance, and he does quite admirably. Maybe only specific writers grok his chi ...
This black comedy'll put writer/director Martin McDonagh on your radar if he wasn't there before, if only for the sharp throwaway insights as to tourist travelling the continent.
Super Reviewer
½ February 9, 2008
Failed hitman Colin Farrell is sent to Bruges with fellow hitman and friend Brendan Gleeson to lay low after the botched murder of a priest results in the death of a small boy. Sounds like a barrel of laughs doesn't it? But this endlessly surprising film is just that. The dialogue is extremely smart and witty and it's full of very funny and politically incorrect humour as well as gangster related drama and surreal situations that's slightly reminiscent of a rather more cerebral and literary Guy Ritchie movie. Farrell is great as a culturally inept childish oaf who you can't help liking and despite the humourous approach and dubious morality of everyone involved you actually start to care about them all. I particularly liked the way that their moral "code" is shown as absurdly misplaced and hypocritical rather than honourable and the script is quirky but never resorts to self-conscious "I'm mad, me!" wackiness. It's refreshingly unpredictable right to the end and I really, really enjoyed it. People who don't like the "f" or "c" words should definitely steer clear though!
Super Reviewer
February 13, 2013
Ray: Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn't, so it doesn't.

"Shoot First. Sightsee Later."

In Bruges was exactly what I thought it would be after seeing Seven Psychopaths before seeing Martin McDonagh's feature film debut, In Bruges. It's a fast talking, smart, dark comedy that features three great performances from Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes. There's really very little to not like about this movie.

After a job that goes wrong in London, two hit men, Ray(the new guy) and Ken(the veteran) are instructed to stay at a bed and breakfast in Bruges, Belgium and await further instruction from their boss, Harry. Ray is guilt stricken after what occurred on his first hit and hates Bruges. Ken enjoys the days in Bruges, but knows that the "little vacation" won't last.

This is a must see film. The dialogue is smart and fresh, Colin Farrell is hilarious and you gotta love any movie with Brendan Gleeson in it, just for having Brendan Gleeson in it. I tend to believe that McDonagh outdid himself with his follow up to In Bruges, but nonetheless this is still a terrific film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2010
Writer and director Martin McDonagh creates increasingly interesting and Meta films about the world of crime that are both interesting to watch and great for a laugh. Though he has recently been lauded for his film "Seven Psychopaths" his earlier film, "In Bruges" is better constructed, has a more interesting concept, and deals with a cast of characters otherwise unseen in a film like this. Colin Farrell is starring in much more interesting faire as of late, and this film truly began his build into indie icon, as the hard to love Ray, a hit man who is stuck in Bruges after a job gone wrong. Brendan Gleason also impresses in the role of Ken, his friend and handler. Ralph Fiennes shows up to make an interesting mark as their boss, Harry, and their final gunfight is far more gun heavy than its successor. This is a one of a kind writer and director, and all his work needs to be watched by American audiences.
Super Reviewer
½ November 3, 2012
In Bruges is a well crafted drama-comedy directed with brilliance by Martin McDonaugh. With a terrific cast at hand, McDonaugh creates a unique film that combines different elements in to one picture. With a well written script, In Bruges is one of the most original Gangster flicks to come out in recent memory. The plot is terrific and in turn this is a near flawless piece of cinema that will surely appeal to cinema buffs looking for a totally original story and effective acting. There's some terrific acting from Colin Farrell and in turn his performances is among his greatest. Brendan Gleeson also delivers along with Ralph Fiennes. All in all the performances alone make this film what kit is and add to that a solid story and comedy moments with its drama and you have a stellar picture worth seeing. There's plenty of good aspects going on for this film, and it delivers a truly unique and very different viewing experience that you are used too when it comes to watching crime films. All the elements work well in one storyline, and with skillful direction from Martin McDonaugh, this is among the better crime films of recent memory. The plot is simple, yet very effective, and the film is slow, but it tells a compelling story that just grabs your attention. In Bruges is a wonderful piece of cinema that will most certainly appeal to crime film fans looking for a different twist on the traditional crime formula. This is brilliant filmmaking and you should definitely check this film out.
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2007
An instant classic. Absolutely brilliant. A sharply written, terrifically performed and excellently crafted film. A killer comedy loaded with great action, outrageous laughs and strong performances. Great, witty and marvelous characters. Colin Farrell is terrific, showing a very funny and compelling character, he hasn't been this good in years. Brendan Gleeson is fantastic. Gleeson and Farrell are the best odd-couple hitmen team since Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, bringing very great chemistry to the screen. Ralph Fiennes is magnificent, stealing the show in ways only he can. These guys have such unique, gut-busting and very funny chemistry. A wickedly cool, original and very fun flick that you will love from beginning to end. It is actually a pretty strong film that has emotional effect and tragedy in a darkly comic atmosphere. A stylish, thrilling and action-packed film. Plenty of flat-out enjoyment that never lets up. It's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels meets The Matador.
Super Reviewer
October 28, 2012
Martin McDonagh's crime thriller In Bruges puts Bruges on the map.With the idea of building up, the plot starts off slowly with what seems like randomness and maybe even a little drag; however, the characters, dialogue, and events that take place tend to keep things interesting enough with even a few laughs to be had. It isn't until the final 45 minutes where things pick up and everything comes together.The violence is pretty slim, given the story revolves around hitmen, but for what does occur, it is quite gruesome.The performances are a highlight. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell do an excellent job at carrying this film. The lovely Clemence Poesy is a breadth of fresh of air and Ralph Fiennes steps in for some solid airtime in the latter portions of the picture.In the end, the dark humor and direction of In Bruges make it a recommendable 100 minutes.
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2010
It may not be a pretty film, but the substance is glowing and the performances are immaculate. In his first directing role, Martin McDonaugh proves that he is in this business for the long-haul, creating a vibrant and colourful look at the town Bruges. I was laughing at the subtle humour throughout the entire film and by the end, I was invested in everybody's backstories, and each event either had me laughing or on the edge of my seat. It is beautifully shot from the cinematography around the characters, to the accenting shots of the town. I fell in love with this film right from the start, and it is one of my favourite films in recent years. "In Bruges" is terrific!
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2012
Martin McDonagh delivers a spectacular debut with 'In Bruges'. Most of the film really seems to click, with the duo performance between Gleeson and Farrell, a great Ralph Fiennes, and an effervescent script. The whole atmosphere of the town and its inhabitants works perfectly for a dark comedy like this film. 'In Bruges' might slip up a little here and there, but it is a great debut from a director I'd be keen to watch for. Any fans of superbly dark comedies would love it.
Super Reviewer
½ December 5, 2007
Looking back now I find the trailer for this film to be a bit misleading. Yes, the movie has its funny parts, some of the dialoges are even outright hilarious. To promote it as a gangster comedy, like you could do with Guy Richie's films for example, doesn't exactly do it justice, though. The general mood of this film is deeply melancholic, the soundtrack and the beautiful, unusual setting of Bruges make sure of that. The city almost becomes another main character with its unique atmosphere. The acting is top notch, especially by Gleeson and Fiennes, who is creating a very unusual villain character delivering the most hilarious lines. Merely Ferrell's expressions feel a bit over the top sometimes. The script is smart and enthralling. The bell tower sequence is brilliant but what comes after feels a bit forced and kinda renders it pointless, sadly. So, the ending made me feel a little let down and could have been a lot smarter. Still, definitely worth seeing.
Super Reviewer
February 8, 2011
In Bruges has to be one of the most impressive debut features of the past 10 years. This wickedly funny drama effectively probes the conscious of men whose job it is to murder their fellow man. Strolling along the ancient and venerable banks of the capital, hit men Ray and Ken are forced to lay low after Ray accidentally dispatches a young boy. During their sojourn, the quiescent city forces them battle not only their inner demons, but surly tourists as well.
Brendan Gleeson is marvelous and even Colin Farrell is brilliant as a savagely irreverent tortured soul in need of deliverance. The dialogue is brilliantly written and the direction sharp. Rarely do films of this caliber come along and I fear it will be a while before we see one like it again.
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2010
"In Bruges" is criminally underrated. The pitch dark comedy is definitely an acquired taste, but it finds its identity in it. Loved it due to its astute and clever screenplay. Obviously, the screenplay wouldn't have been able to last without good acting and surprisingly, this is Collin Farrell's best performance in my opinion.
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2012
Clever, and you might get through the entire movie without wanting to punch Colin Farrell in the face for being a sleeze (though you may still want to punch him in the face). The real star of the show is Ralph Fiennes -- until he shows up with his one-liners, you may be looking at your watch to see how much time is left.

Definitely queue this one up in Netflix.
Super Reviewer
½ February 6, 2008
Two Irish hitmen are made to seek shelter and lay low in the town of Bruges in Belgium, a nice, quiet, scenic, fairy tale type of place after their most recent job had a rather large hiccup in it. So, until their angry crime boss employer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) contacts them, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) must hang out and try to enjoy themselves, something that seems fae easier for the older, more reserved Ken than it does for the younger, antsy Ray.

Given the set up, and the fact that this has some really funny and witty dialogue, and that it is a darkly comedic thriller (huge emphasis on dark, not as much on thriller-it's not an action movie, well, not conventionally), this could have easily turned into a very typical and derivative film.

That it is not is not only a blessing, but also something really awesome, becuase it shows there's hope that originality, style, and creativity haven't completely died out...yet

A lot of this mvoie is just Ken and Ray sightseeing and bantering back and forth, but these are developed characters who are both really interesting, have actual stuff to talk about, and there's some good subtext and symbolism as well, which I always appreciate, especially when it is of the religious, yet not preachy variety.

The film was shot on location, and the results are great. This is a neat looking city, and I wouldn't be surprised if the place hasn't had an increase in tourists over the past four years as a result of this movie. It seems like the sort of place I'd probably be interested in seeing, but not just becuase of this film. The score, done by one of my favorites (Carter Burwell), is quite nice, which is to be expected, and, while it is really good overall, it does a particularly good job of bringing out the darker side of the story, especially when we find out why the pair are in Bruges, and why they act the way they do, especially Ray.

Gleeson and Farrell are wonderful together, and have good chemistry. I've seen several films with Gleeson in them before, but I never really thought much of the man. I think I'll be changing this now. For thsoe who think that Farrell doesn't have talent, just see this movie. He won a Golden Globe for his work, and he really does do a good job. I've never doubted he had real talent, but this seals the deal. Ralph Fiennes is also quite good at playing the cold blooded and menacing crime boss.

All in all, this is quite a terrific work. It's just mainstream enough to appeal to a wide audience, yet artsy enough to set it apart from the typical crap that gets made about hitmen in foreign places without reeking of pretentiousness. Do yourself a favor and give this one a watch, it's awesome.
Super Reviewer
February 5, 2011
Ken: Harry, let's face it. You've always been a cunt. The only thing that's gonna change, is that you're gonna be an even bigger cunt. Maybe have some more cunt kids.

Brilliant. Flat out Brilliant. I adore the hell out of this film. It concerns Ray (Colin Farrell), a hitman who seeks shelter in Bruges, Belgium with his partner, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) after a hit goes wrong and ends in Ray murdering a young child. Ray is quite a bitter man. He spends his days in the boring place that is Bruges mocking dwarfs, obese families, and wooing "foreign" women.

'In Bruges' is one of my favorites. Why? Because I bloody well think so, that's why. Sharp, witty, and fast-paced dialogue is literally what consists of 3/4 of the film. Martin McDonagh is one of the best modern directors today. What McDonagh does that others don't is knows how to direct dialogue going hand-in-hand with delightful cinematography. Class act job, Mr. McDonagh.

Farrell and Gleeson do great together. They both have thick accents, that are nice for a change considering the amount of films Farrell has had to use an American accent. Gleeson, on the other hand, had his thick accent in all of the Harry Potter films. Voldemort, err- Ralph Fiennes is additionally in this movie (two Potter stars in one film, shocking), and is quite solid despite the lack of screen time that he was given. Oh yeah, this is ALSO an action movie. Very well put together sequences go hand-in-hand with the magnificent script, direction, dialogue, performances, and everything else that makes 'In Bruges' one of the best films in cinematic history.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ August 16, 2011
There have been a number of British gangster films in the last ten years which have re-approached well-worn crime thriller stories through distinctive dialogue, full-on violence and black humour. At its height this wave produced Gangster No. 1 and Sexy Beast, featuring barnstorming central performances by Malcolm McDowell and Ben Kingsley as near-mythical incarnations of evil. And while In Bruges never quite matches up to either of these, there is plenty in the way of humour and invention to render it thoroughly enjoyable.

In Bruges is the debut film of playwright Martin McDonagh, most famous for his Leenane trilogy of plays - The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West. All three plays revolve around brutal acts of murder in which the death in question has left deep emotional scars on the perpetrators: in the case of The Lonesome West, it has caused the two brothers to divide the house precisely in two, with each brother owning what is on one side of a line.

What connects all McDonagh's work is a rich streak of black, absurdist humour, which walks the same tightrope as Samuel Beckett or in some cases Spike Milligan between the utterly ridiculous and the drolly melancholic. The extremities of the characters in In Bruges are not simply a ploy on McDonagh's part to make a stock plot seem distinctive. They are there to deepen the archetypes and bring out more deeper, existential elements in the story and the characters, using banality to introduce depth.

In Bruges begins with the same old story of a hitman (or hitmen in this case) hiding out in a foreign town after completing a job. Both men are faced with the prospect of being there for an undetermined amount of time, with nothing to do except spend their money and wait for instructions. Ken (Brendan Gleeson), the elder of the two, wants to take in the sights and wait patiently to move on, while Ray (an on-form Colin Farrell) is content to confine his sight-seeing to the bottoms of beer glasses.

As with The American, Anton Corbijn's recent genre exercise, the characters in In Bruges carry guilt from a past mistake - in this case the death of a child during the assassination of a Catholic priest. Whole sections of the film tip their hat knowingly to Don't Look Now - so knowingly that Clemence Poesy feels the need to mention it on the set of the film-within-a-film. Just as Donald Sutherland keeps seeing images of a girl in red around Venice, and becomes convinced that he is seeing his daughter, so Ray's encounters with the dwarf actor are made all the more awkward by his memories of what went wrong.

There are also strong connections with Bad Lieutenant, Abel Ferrara's striking depiction of Catholic guilt and redemption. Like Harvey Keitel's character, Ken and Ray are struggling with the ins and outs of judgement and redemption, struggling to come to terms with their purpose and meaning as they stare increasingly into the abyss. There are conversations about purgatory, and the film-within-a-film refers to Hieronymus Bosch, a 15th-century painter famous for his depictions of hell.

Within this context, Bruges becomes the purgatory into which our characters have landed and whose attitude reflects their ultimate ability or willingness to escape. Ray feels immense guilt for what happened to the child, but this guilt is matched by a desire to atone and escape. His final words, as he is loaded into the ambulance and passes out, see him leaving purgatory, content with death over remaining there even if death leads to damnation. Ken, on the other hand, is more resigned to his fate and is less willing to put up a fight when Harry's angel of death arrives. Having killed many more men than Ray, he knows that he will never see heaven. Although he attempts to help Ray both in life and death, he ultimately allows death to find him and puts up very little resistance.

But by far and away, the biggest debt of In Bruges is to Harold Pinter, specifically The Dumb Waiter from which most of the premise is taken. It shares the central idea of two hitmen who spend most of their time talking and arguing about things which seem utterly irrelevant but are in fact nothing of the sort. And the final twist is the same, although this is revealed a lot earlier than in Pinter's script. The only massive departure, in terms of character at least, comes in the role of Harry, played with typical venom by Ralph Fiennes. Dumb is the last word you would use to describe his character, whose every word feels like an acidic curse even when he isn't swearing his mouth off.

Because the genre ingredients are so familiar and knowingly played, there are two traps into which In Bruges could easily fall. The first is descending into total caricature, along the lines of Guy Ritchie's early efforts: the language and gestures become so ridiculous that all sense of believability is lost. Although Harry is particularly outrageous in his behaviour, the film stays just the right side of caricature, playing up the absurd elements while using the language and violence to keep us feeling threatened even as we laugh ourselves silly. A typical example of this would be Fiennes' first appearance, when he smashes his office phone to pieces in frustration. It's very funny to see a grown man concentrate his rage on something so small so repeatedly, but even as we laugh we realise that he is capable of doing the same thing to something more fleshy, with horrible consequences.

The second, more common trap is that the ordinary nature of the story acts as a lead weight on the character development: in other words, the story is too thin or straightforward either to allow extended character development, or to give any reason for such a thing to occur. While In Bruges doesn't completely fall into this trap, its story is disappointingly simple once all the language, violence and pondering has been stripped away.

Because of its clear resemblance to Pinter's work, one could argue that this criticism should not be levelled against McDonagh but Pinter himself. Pinter was part of a theatrical tradition started by Beckett in which characters existed and acted regardless of or in absence of any story - Beckett's later plays often occur well after the action has taken place, and said action is only referred to in passing. But this paucity of actual plot has not prevented some of Pinter's other works from translating successfully to the screen, most notably The Birthday Party and Betrayal.

In Bruges is caught between a rock and a hard place in its relationship to genre. On the one hand, the touchstones to previous crime thrillers are so clear that it struggles to escape from convention when it really needs to: we know more or less where it is going even before Harry arrives, and so its scope for exploring things on a profoundly existential level is limited. On the other hand, when it does manage to elevate itself above convention, there is not enough narrative drive in the characters to prevent their conversations from going around in circles. As The Bed-Sitting Room proved, it is difficult to put work in Beckett's vein on screen without it feeling lacking in narrative, something which is perhaps less of a problem on stage.

While this aspect of In Bruges remains frustrating, the film is still thoroughly entertaining thanks to the quality of its cast. Fiennes is the highlight, with Harry being clearly modelled on the work of Louis Mellis and David Scinto: in his relentlessness and constant anger, he could pass for a cousin of Don Logan. That said, his performance wouldn't work without someone more understated to counterpoint him, and Farrell achieves that masterfully. Having drifted in his career between total fluff (Alexander) and pretentious waffle (The New World), he gets the balance spot on to deliver a performance of vulnerability and sympathy. Gleeson anchors things in another fine performance, and Clemence Poesy is every bit as sweet and charming here as she was in Philip Ridley's Heartless.

In Bruges is an interesting, entertaining and often hilarious take on a well-worn story and subject area. It is ultimately a little too generic for its own good, with McDonagh wrestling with the self-imposed confinements of genre in an effort to combine existentialism and narrative. The result is a partial success which makes for great late-night viewing, and while not up there with Gangster No. 1 or Sexy Beast, it comes through with most of the goods and hints at better things to come for its director.
Super Reviewer
½ February 7, 2008
Oh. my. gosh. I did not know what to expect at all but all those blew out of the water once I was introduced to the fairytale city of Bruges. The atmosphere is SO netherworldly, so hazy yet cerebral, it's like you have all the time in the world to think but the thoughts that come out of your mind are as dreamlike as the city. It's so unexpectedly funny but then it quickly shifts moods from comic to tragic to pensive to tragicomic.The most masterful moments come when everything is still. I don't know how anyone can create such an original combination of genres and assorted moods. The location choice is flawless.
Super Reviewer
½ June 12, 2008
Hilarious thriller/dark comedy with great acting chemistry and dialogue concerning all kinds of seemingly unrelated and serious things like moral integrity, xenofobia or existential issues, toned down by humorous vulgarity and pop culture references. A delight for us undemanding cinephiles, all pedant pseudo intellectuals better stay away unless you want to start nagging and questioning the quality and entertainment value of this little wonder.
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