In Bruges

Here is a chance to see some premiere acting. Our story takes place in Bruges (Belgium) and features a team of hit men. Obviously, based on the release date, the studio has no hopes for 2008 Oscars, but all three of the lead actors have a chance to shine and all three knock it out of the park. They portray the two hit men and their boss.

Brendan Gleeson in particular ("Cold Mountain," "Breakfast on Pluto," and "Troy") has a lengthy one-take scene with a telephone no less! It goes on and on, he moves through a wide range of emotions, moving around his hotel room arguing a point and ultimately conceding defeat, all with no cuts, no splicing, no cobbling together of a scene. It is very, very impressive!

Colin Farrell ("Phone Booth," "Minority Report" and "The Recruit") may even live down "Alexander" if he keeps delivering work of this caliber! He is the other half of the team of hit men sent to Bruges after a particularly tough job (during which he "hits" an uncredited CiarĂ¡n Hinds). The effects of that job continue to haunt him and he seems more and more like a loose cannon.

Ralph Fiennes ("Quiz Show," "The English Patient" and "The Con- stant Gardener") is their boss who is completely out of patience with a supposedly professional hit man who suffers qualms after the fact. He is a contradictory blend of cold ruthlessness mixed with unexpected mercy. The concern of two of the men for the stubborn (but very pregnant) hotel proprietress is actually quite believable.

The running gag is, as a city, Bruges is such a non-entity no one expects anything important to happen there! In reality, it's a lovely city, with impressive ancient architecture, canals like Amsterdam and lots of history, but the incredulity of the characters when they respond, "In Bruges?!" always got a laugh. One of our guys is basically a tourist at heart, travel brochures in hand, so he comes to appreciate the place more and more, while the other is bored, miserably cold and truculent.

This movie has a clever script written with a deft hand that includes many nice touches of dark humor. Alas, some of the folks in Wednes- day's audience thought it was downright hilarious. I will admit that some of the dialogue got past me, so I'm looking forward to the DVD, which will be funnier simply because of the captions. Incidentally, like an Eddie Murphy movie, by the time you've heard the "F-word" the tenth time, it loses its punch, but be warned...