Kernels: In Bruges
In Bruges‘ trailer promised me a quirky dark comedy with a smattering of action and crazy gunplay. And there were all those things, however I think this was one of those cases where a preview sets the wrong tone for a movie, because this film takes it precious time getting going. With a tag line of “Shoot First, Sightsee Later”, there’s a whole lot of sightseeing that takes place in the film before a single bullet is fired.
The first half is filled with aforementioned dark comedy, focusing on two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who’ve been ordered by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to lay low in the peaceful, fairytale-like town of Bruges. An hour or more is spent getting to know these two men, who they are and what’s happened to them in the past to bring them to the point they’re at now, and on the various encounters they have in Bruges, from sightseeing at various old cathedrals to meeting midgets acting in a arthouse flick being filmed in the city. None of this is bad, and there are some rather funny parts and some very genuine places that make you feel for the characters. But it does move kind of slow, and sometimes Gleeson’s thick accent makes me wish I’d had subs turned on.
Colin Farrell did a wonderful job with the character of Ray, making me thoroughly feel for the guy. And I don’t even much care for Farrell, who just rubs me as being a bit of a prick, but Ray’s past is dark and terrifying and Farrell tapped into some emotions i’d never seen him display on screen before.
The second half of the film (or maybe more like the last 30 minutes) really picked up, after the yet unseen big boss man, Harry, finally shows his face. Once he goes from being an unseen force and takes a larger role, I felt this movie really started to shine. Once Harry arrives in Bruges, the film hurls towards its climax and finally pulls you dangerously close to the edge of your seat. The comedy gets darker, the guns are unholstered, and the special effects department FINALLY gets to use their bags of fake blood. I also thought the ending was very satisfying, but don’t expect anything bright and sunny. It’s a comedy, but there’s plenty of tragedy running rampant here as well.