I wrote this post back in March, but since this came out to DVD recently, I'm rehashing it to encourage you to rent this movie...
Rather than try and explain the premise, I'll simply give you the trailer (it's about 2 1/2 minutes long):
So, there you go. Let me first preface my review by saying that I hate--hate!--Colin Ferrel. I don't know if I've ever liked any of the movies he's been in; or, at least, I haven't liked him in any of the movies he's in. He was fine in Minority Report and he was okay in The New World, but he's basically ruined any other movie he's ever been in. His main problem is that he sucks. At everything. Plus, he can't hold an accent. (Christian Bale is so good at his American accent that several of my friends had no idea wasn't American.) What helps Ferrell here is that he's allowed to keep his natural [Irish] brogue. Brendan Gleeson--perhaps more familiar to you as Professor "Mad Eye" Moody from Harry Potter--picks up any slack that Ferrell leaves. At the risk of sounding too professional-movie-reviewer-ish, Ralph Fiennes was "delightfully wicked" as their sinister boss; he should play more roles as the villain because he's tremendous at it.
The film was written by Martin McDonagh, who hasn't done much else. He's clearly seen all of Guy Ritchie's films; McDonaugh manages to pay tribute without encroaching. And thankfully, In Bruges--one of a recent crop of movies (The Matador; You Kill Me) about assassins who unravel in a supposedly comic way--this movie has scenes that actually inspire laughter, and the action is good and appropriately suspenseful. The movie is rife with foul language, drug use, and poking fun at Americans (and Americans who turn out to be Canadians), and midgets, but it was funny so I didn't really care. There are a few scenes of gratuitous violence, but they weren't enough to make my stomach churn.
The Bank Job, also recently released to DVD, got good reviews (78% on Rotten Tomatoes), In Bruges is a much better movie. Granted, In Bruges is going for the dark comedy + action angle while Bank Job is merely action + a few laughs, but I didn't really care about any of the characters in Bank Job, the action wasn't very intense, and the story--although "based on true events"--was not riveting. In In Bruges (is there a better way to start that sentence?), on the other hand, I found myself caring about the characters--yes, even Colin Ferrell--while the action and story were both good. And to boot, the movie made me want to visit Bruges some day (it looks like a less-smelly version of Venice).
Final Grade: B/B+
Blurb: Although not as good as Snatch or Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels, In Bruges contains laughs, action, beautiful scenery, an interesting narrative, good cinematography, some [surprisingly] good acting, and is a nice--yet not pitch-perfect--mix of action and [dark] comedy. Also, don't rent The Bank Jarb.