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A 2008 tragicomedy about two likable hitmen hiding out in Belgium. Ray is a rookie with a foul mouth, a fouler disposition, and a bizarre obsession with "midgets". Ken is an experienced professional with intellectual interests and curiosity about the medieval city's history (though he's no slouch in the profanity department). They spend their days either exploring the city, waiting for their even more foul-mouthed boss to call them and tell them what to do next, all the while providing much witty commentary about beautiful-but-boring Bruges.
First, it's revealed that Ray's last hit went horribly wrong, and he's consumed with guilt over it. Then, he just keeps running into a Hieronymus Bosch painting of purgatory, a dwarf actor playing in a film based on a Hieronymus Bosch painting of purgatory, a cool chick who sells drugs to a dwarf actor playing in a film based on a Hieronymus Bosch painting of purgatory, and, well, a coked-out vision of purgatory. Ray spends his days grumpy, wondering if he'll go to hell or heaven or purgatory. And the more things start to come together, the more they fall apart.
The first feature film by acclaimed British/Irish theatre director/playwright Martin McDonagh, it was quite well-received. The performances from Colin Farrell (Ray), Brendan Gleeson (Ken), and Ralph Fiennes (fuckin' Harry) all earned plenty of praise, and the film even scored a dark horse Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
- Action Film Quiet Drama Scene: A Perspective Flip of the ratio of quiet to action scenes.
- Affably Evil: Harry Waters' whole plan is to give Ray the pleasant experience of visiting Bruges before he has Ken kill him. Undercut by the fact that Ray utterly despises fuckin' Bruges.
- He also Wouldn't Hurt a Child, and kills himself after believing he has, in accordance with the principle he held Ray to.
- Harry also has trouble killing Ken without a fight.
- Nobody wants to have a shootout around a bunch of civilians, and Ray and Harry take great pains to accommodate a pregnant woman who won't leave the room.
- Anti-Hero: Ray and Ken are both Type IV.
- Anti-Villain: Harry Waters.
- Asshole Victim: Okay, we don't really know if Harry killed the Jerkass tower guard but it is highly probable that he did. Either way, he definitely had it coming.
- Attention Deficit Ooh they're filming midgets!
- Autobots Rock Out
- Berserk Button: "You take back that statement about My cunt fucking kids".
- Big Brother Mentor: Ken.
- Black Comedy: From that black part of the light spectrum that only the Coen Brothers can see.
- Call Back: Ken and Harry aren't allowed in the tower because "an American had a heart attack."
- Canada, Eh?: Averted - it is precisely because the Canadians don't fit the stereotypes of Canadians, nor speak with particularly pronounced accents, that Ray mistakes them for Americans.
- Career Killers: Ken, Ray, Harry.
- Chekhov's Armoury - Between Harry's honor code against killing children, his purchase of "dum-dums" and the prevalence of the midget, there's quite a lot of Foreshadowing of the ending.
Harry: If I had killed a little kid, accidentally or otherwise, I wouldn't have thought twice. I'd have killed myself on the spot. I'd have put the gun in my mouth and killed myself, on the fucking spot.
- Also, Ray constantly commenting on how many midgets end up shooting themselves in the head
- And that's forgetting the tower custodian refusing to take Ken's just-short spare change.
- The Canadian that Ray hits, the fat Americans that go to the top of the tower and the gun Ray steals from Chloe/Erik.
- Cluster F-Bomb - Ray, sometimes Ken, and lampshadingly-so with Harry Waters.
"Geez, he swears a lot, don't he?"
- Contract on the Hitman
- Country Matters: "Harry, let's face it- and I'm not being funny, and I mean no disrespect- but you're a cunt. You're a cunt now, you've always been a cunt, and the only thing that's gonna change is that you're gonna become an even bigger cunt, maybe have some more cunt kids."
- Deadpan Snarker
- The Determinator: Ken and his climb-to-the-top-of-the-bell-tower-with-a-shot-leg-and-punctured-artery-so-you-can-jump-off-and-tell-Ray-to-take-your-gun-and-run-before-you-die determination.
- Dramatic Irony: Harry kills himself because he doesn't know the small person whose head he blew off was a dwarf and not a child.
- Driven to Suicide
- Eagle Land: The grotesquely obese American tourists.
- Escape Convenient Boat: Unfortunately, Ray drops his gun after landing, and gets shot anyway.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Killing children is off limits. Harry holds himself to this so much so that he killed himself when he believed he accidentally killed a kid.
- Also, neither Ray nor Harry would fight in the inn with the innocent (and pregnant) bystander there.
- Eye Scream: A crook tries to rob Ray with a gun loaded with blanks. Ray disarms him and shoots him from point-blank range, permanently blinding him in one eye.
- Face Death with Dignity: Ken. Though he'd apparently hoped it would stop Harry from shooting him at all. It didn't.
- Famous Last Words: "I'm gonna die now, I think."
- "You've got to stick to your principles."
- And quite possibly: I really, really hoped I wouldn't die."
- Fake Nationality: The Canadian tourist in the restaurant is played by a Slovenian-American. The fat American tourist is played by a Welshman.
- Also, Jimmy was played by a Canadian. And Chloë was played by a French woman.
- Averted with Ken and Ray. They were originally written as Brits, but the script altered when two Irishmen signed on to the parts.
- First Law of Tragicomedies: Not as adhered to as most: even in the tensest situations, there's comedic exchanges like Ray and Harry concocting a plan to continue their shootout outside.
- Genre Savvy
Harry: "Don't be stupid. This is the shoot-out."
- Go Through Me
- Grievous Bottley Harm: "In my book, though, someone comes at you with a bottle, I'm sorry, that is a deadly weapon, he's gotta take the consequences."
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Harry.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Despite being shot in the leg and neck, Ken manages to climb back up to the bell tower and jump to the ground, alerting Ray to Harry's presence.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: The three leads are fairly well-known on their own accord, but it can be disorienting to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and then watch this film, given the presence of Gleeson, Fiennes, and Fleur Delacour's actress Clémence Poésy. Also, Danko's vacation was a bit stressful and that's why he's so tightly wound.
- A deleted scene has Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, as a younger Harry, decapitate a policeman named Potter, in a 1970s police station. Or, to phrase it differently, "Harry, as The Doctor, kills Potter, years before he was Voldemort, in the setting of Life On Mars."
- The Canadian Ray hits is Zeljko Ivanek, who played the governor on Oz, the Magister on True Blood and Prosecutor Ed Danvers in Homicide: Life On the Street. As well as Danko, and the shooter from "Last Resort" on House.
- Hookers and Blow
- Infant Immortality: The impetus of the plot.
- Interrupted Suicide: Interrupted by someone trying to kill the guy who is trying to kill himself. Awkward.
- And then this is subverted when Ray tries to stop Harry from committing suicide. He's so wounded that he can't finish his sentence, and Harry dies thinking he killed a child.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Harry has no problem being told that he is, was and always will be a cunt, but if you call his kids cunts, he gets quite upset.
- Jerkass: Everyone have a fair share of moments for being this. Harry, Eirik and the Canadian guy in particular.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ray may be a rude, bigoted pottymouth, but he feels genuinely guilty for shooting the little boy. Ken tactfully suggests that he might not really be cut out to be a professional killer.
- Kill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand: The stand off between Harry and Ken in the tower. Partially subverted when Harry shoots Ken in the leg; fully subverted when Harry shoots to kill to prevent Ken from stopping Harry's attempt to kill Ray.
- Little People Are Surreal: Starts out lampshaded, gets subverted, gets turned into Reality Ensues, and almost edges into being played straight.
- London Gangster: Harry. Ken and Ray are London based but are obviously Irish (Ray explicitly mentions being from Dublin and since Brendan Gleeson uses his own accent Ken is presumably a Dub too.)
- Love Interest: Chloe.
- Mexican Standoff: Played for Laughs in the hotel scene.
- Mood Whiplash: One of the film's defining features.
- More Dakka: Averted by Harry's choice of weapon when buying guns. He is offered an Uzi, but is disdainful of it, asking for "a normal gun for a normal person".
- My Greatest Failure: Ray can't get over accidentally shooting a little boy.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The marketing campaign for this movie forgot to mention that it's a Tear Jerker.
- For one, one scene was played in the trailers for (dark) comedy when it was actually the lead-up to the central drama of the piece: Ray pulls off his first hit against the presumably deserving priest, quipping all the way; the clip in the trailer cuts off before he discovers that a stray or overpenetrating bullet killed a small child awaiting confession.
- The movie suffered in the United States because it was horrendously advertised. It picked up steam once the critics began saying "It's good".
- Noble Demon: Harry has principles.
- Odd Couple: Pensive, knowledge-seeking Ken vs. twitchy, hedonistic Ray.
- Overly Long Gag: Ken trying to make five Euro out of his coins to avoid having to break a bill.
- Prank Date: Naturally, it doesn't go according to plan.
- Precision F-Strike: The hotel owner, Marie telling Ray and Harry to fuck off.
- Pregnant Badass: Marie, the hotel owner. While not kicking huge amounts of ass in the traditional sense, she shows enormous courage, standing up to an armed man and refusing to let him upstairs.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Played straight with regular bullets. Avoided when the "dum-dums" get used.
- Punch Clock Villain: All three leads.
- Punctuated Poking: "The. Tower. Is. Closed. This. Evening! Understand? Englishman?"
- Reckless Gun Usage: Averted beautifully. Ken is very careful with his guns. Harry locks his guns away when he's at home so his kids can't get at them. Both Ken and Harry practice good trigger discipline throughout the film. Ray is a bit more careless, but as he's much younger, reckless and a bit suicidal, this is in character for him (and he never points a gun at anyone he doesn't want to kill, though his occasional poor aim when he does want to kill someone tends to get him in trouble.) At one point a man tries to rob Ray with a gun loaded with blanks — Ray wrestles the gun off him and fires into the man's face at point-blank range. The blanks leave him permanently blind in one eye.
- Redemption Equals Death: The film might as well be subtitled Redemption Equals Death: The Movie".
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted. Ray laments that his revolver is "a bloody girl's gun" when Ken shows him his own automatic.
- Sarcastic Confession: Ray confessing to My Greatest Failure on a first date, and Chloe admitting to her profession in response, both laughing it off as a big joke;
Chloe: So what do you do?
Ray: I... shoot people for money.
Chloe: [smiling] What kinds of people?
Ray: Priests, children... you know, the usual.
Chloë: Is there a lot of money to be made in that business?
Ray: There is for priests. There isn't for children. So what is it you do, Chloë?
Chloë: I sell cocaine and heroin to Belgian film crews.
- Say My Name Trailer: "Bruges." "Bruges." "Bruges." "Bruges." "Where is that?" "It's in Belgium."
- Scenery Porn: Lots of shots showcasing the beauty of Bruges.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Lots of 'em, mostly pertaining to fuckin' Bruges.
- Tempting Fate: The tower guard repeatedly prodding Harry in the face, as he just stands there paralysed with fury. Yeah, you might not want to do that...
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: Evidently McDonagh could think of no more elegant way of letting the audience know that Ken likes Bruges than having him look out across Bruges and say to himself "I like it here."
- The Hero Dies: Not explicitly shown, but he does get shot an unpleasantly high number of times in a rather important area of the torso, so it's a pretty good bet he's dead by the time the credits are finished.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Conversation between Harry and Eirik at Yuri's house
- Title Drop: Sort of.
Ray: Maybe that's what hell is, the entire rest of eternity spent in fucking Bruges.
- Too Dumb to Live: In Harry's opinion, Eirik, the man who tried to mug Ray with a gun full of blanks.
Eirik: I was trying to rob him. And he took my gun from me. And the gun was full of blanks. And he shot a blank into my eye. And now I cannot see from this eye ever again, the doctors say.
Harry: Well to be honest, it sounds like it's all your fault.
Harry: I mean basically if you're robbing a man and you're only carrying blanks and you allow your gun to be taken off you and you allow yourself to be shot in the eye with a blank, which I assume that the person has to get quite close to you to do, then yeah. Really it's all your fault for being such a poof, so why don't you stop whinging and cheer the fuck up.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Harry won't push past the pregnant hotel owner to get up the stairs at Ray. This might be due to his Wouldn't Hurt a Child rule, though. Averted when Ray hits the Canadian woman, though he's put on the defensive about it later and insists that it was self defense.
- She had a bottle!
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Harry is very protective of children, possibly due to having several of his own. This becomes a major plot point.
- World Limited to the Plot: Bruges. We get a brief glimpse of Harry's domestic life, a flashback to Ray's fuckup at the church, and a train escape sequence that never goes anywhere -- Ray is led right back to Bruges.
- Your Head Asplode: The dum dum bullets are said to do this. Hence Harry taking a whole box of Them.