Earlier this year, it slipped past most people that 2008 action-comedy In Bruges celebrated its fifth anniversary. That fact is a testament to how incredibly over-looked the film has been in the ensuing years since its release. While the high ratings at reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes are nice and all, critical acclaim doesn’t necessarily always lead to a piece getting the attention it deserves. And that’s a shame, because it is undoubtedly a great example of how action and comedy can intersect.
Unlike others of its ilk before and after its release, In Bruges is never abrasive or obnoxious with its presentation of comedy. The dynamic of actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who portray fellow Irish hitmen Ray and Ken, appears so innate that you think these two were longtime pals. But no, their pairing works so well because of the extremely well-written screenplay.
And it goes beyond the comedic elements, though those are important to mention outright because, again, comedy-action films can often be labourious and a total bore. They can also lead to an unfortunate string of sequels that do nothing more than bastardize the original’s concept and completely ruin what it had going for it from the jump. Just look at what happened by the third Rush Hour, the fourth (and arguably third) Lethal Weapon, and so on.
While those examples are more, say, buddy-cop flicks than the anti-hero In Bruges, it’s still worth noting that writer/director Martin McDonagh has decided to stick to one-offs like this. With good reason, because they make for a movie that you’ll want to watch again and again. At the conclusion of In Bruges—don’t worry, there will be no spoilers here—you’re left wanting to view it again to put the puzzle pieces together. Or maybe you just want to figure out how McDonagh was able to pull of such a strong ending in a genre where everything seems so predictable.
One critic who drove that point home, along with highlighting the brilliance of the script, best was the late, great Roger Ebert. When he wrote about the film in 2008, he gave it a glowing review (4 out of 5 stars!) and stated the following: “Every once in a while you find a film like this, that seems to happen as it goes along, driven by the peculiarities of the characters.” It’s not often that you get to watch a movie with those qualities in any genre, never mind one fueled by tension, action, humour, and the like.
But that is exactly what you get with In Bruges, which can be seen now on streaming service Picturebox Films. It allows users to watch movies whenever they want, wherever they want on a variety of devices. They also keep their collection fresh by shuffling the offered movies around every 60 days or so. That being said, you’ll have to get moving if you want to catch In Bruges on there. It will be gone before you know it.
And in thinking of this film, it will be interesting to see where the director will head next. Will McDonagh remain in this niche he’s so neatly carved out for himself and do another in the style of In Bruges and last year’s Seven Psychopaths? Or will he attempt to branch out? While it’s not best to wish for an artist to remain “stuck” in a particular style, it’s likely that no one would complain if he decided to do exactly that with whatever he’s working on.