Plot: What’s it about?
I’m familiar with In Bruges only because of the title. I remember when it came out and thought it looked interesting but unsurprisingly I never sat down and watched it. I decided I’d change that when I saw a 4K version was coming and said to myself “I’m going to do it this time, I’ll watch it!” I tend to talk to myself quite often, but even I never listen. In Bruges is one of those dark comedies with elements of drama along the lines of Snatch and maybe even Ready or Not (though that one has far more humor than this). One thing that I wasn’t aware of was that director Martin McDonagh was the writer and director of Best Picture Winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Oddly, McDonagh wasn’t nominated for Best Director, but was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for, you guessed it, this film. I’m a fan of films like this and with some of these “credentials” I was ready to end my nearly decade and half drought of not seeing this film.
After a job gone wrong, Ray (Collin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are sent to Bruges (that’s in Belgium) to cool their heels by their boss, Henry (Ralph Fiennes) with instructions to wait on their next assignment. Ray and Ken aren’t the bumbling characters we might think them to be, they’re professional hit men. Think of them as Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction. Ken manages to convince Ray to out and see the sights of this medieval town, though all things considered Ken would really rather be drowning his sorrows in a pub. The aforementioned “job gone wrong” involved a stray bullet killing a small boy. Eventually the call comes in and the job, well, hits a little too close to home for both Ray and Ken.
There’s a lot to like about this film, though I can see where it’d turn some folks off. I’m a fan of the smartass, quirky humor and I’m a fan of both Farrell and Gleeson (and Fiennes). All are very entertaining in the “fish-out-of-water” in the Flemish capital. Much of the film relies on their banter and bicker, but as tension levels rise and the angry Harry pays a visit, the film’s dramatic tension goes through the roof. Fiennes shows that he can be equally as terrifying in human form as his monstrous rendition of Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. Speaking of that, we’ve got no less than four members of the Harry Potter franchise with Gleeson (Mad Eye Moody), Fiennes (Voldemort), Farrell (Graves) and Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour). If this type of movie is your thing and somehow you’ve missed it (like myself), you’re in for a treat.
Video: How’s it look?
Having never seen the film before, I really have no basis of comparison. But when I see this on the back of the box “Brand New HDR/Dolby Vision Master Color Graded and Approved by Cinematographer Eigil Bryld” I gotta admit that it gives me a nice warm and fuzzy feeling. Kidding aside, even before this new 4K restoration, In Bruges really wasn’t that old (nearing its 15th anniversary as of this writing) as such, it looked pretty good right out of the box. Looking at the Blu-ray and then the 4K disc, there are some obvious improvements in the 4K disc with greater detail, the HDR does help out in a few scenes and it’s just a cleaner, sharper picture. But that’s not telling us anything we don’t already know. The 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image looked and worked well for me. It should for you too.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Kino titles are known for going all out on the picture quality, but we don’t get a new Dolby Atmos track. Relax, it’ll be OK. I remarked in a recent review (though I can’t remember which one) that sometimes films that take place with thick character accents are a bit hard for me to follow. This is the case here with both Farrell and Gleeson being Irish and making no effort to hide their natural tongue (and why should they?). Granted, this isn’t a fault of the DTS HD Master Audio mix, but I felt it worth noting. Surrounds are used in a few of the earlier scenes, but by and large this is relegated to the front stage. It’s a well balanced track that didn’t really leave me wanting anything more.
Supplements: What are the extras?
All of the supplements are found on the Blu-ray, the 4K disc is the movie only.
- Strange Bruges – McDonagh explains how the city of Bruges is the “fourth character” in the film and shows his appreciation for the town via the film. Evidently the city of Bruges wasn’t too thrilled with the movie, but I’m sure it helped their tourism.
- When in Bruges – Essentially a “to do” list of things to do when (or if) you’re ever in this delightful Belgian town.
- Fucking Bruges – If you’re looking for proliferous use of the aforementioned “four letter word” then this one is for you. It’s essentially a montage of the word used in the film. This might be the only featurette that I’ve seen that actually has the “F” word in the title. And I’m OK with that.
- A Boat Trip Around Bruges – In the “literal” department, this is pretty much what we’d expect. A boat trip through the city of Bruges set to music from the film while facts about the town scroll across the top and bottom of the screen. I guess this is the next best thing to being there?
- Deleted Scenes – Just over 15 minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, but as we might expect – these were wisely dropped from the final cut.
- Gag Reel – Shenanigans on the set – Bruges style!
- EPK Interviews – Interviews with Actors Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy, Thekla Reuten and Jordan Prentice; Writer/Director Martin McDonagh and Producer Graham Broadbent as they regale us with stories about the film and from the set.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
It’s such a nice surprise when you discover a film that’s been around for a while having never seen it. If quirky, offbeat humor with some dramatic elements is your thing when it comes to movies, this one is for you. Kino’s 4K disc looks good, sounds fairly decent and comes with just enough supplements to warrant a purchase. Recommended.