★ ★ ★ ★
Martin McDonagh’s first breakthrough into the world of the feature film is a terrific story about the lives of two hitmen laying low in Bruges after a hit gone wrong. The audience is treated to the stellar duo of Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell during their comedic exploration of the Belgian town. Colin Farrell’s performance as Ray, a hitman tormented by guilt, is phenomenally powerful. The film is a true example of how characters, through excellent dialogue and acting can shift the importance away from the plot. In Bruges offers a unique film, as if stage and screen fused to form an incredible crime drama. The film is a staple of Irish filmography, with stunning shots, remarkable acting, and a brilliant cast culminating to create a must-see film. Even though In Bruges was released in 2008, its presence on Netflix is a wonderful treat for those who have not yet had the chance to experience it.
★ ★ ★ ★
In Seven Psychopaths, we see Martin McDonagh create an excellent critique on the traditional Hollywood action movie. Seven Psychopaths, released in 2012, illustrates McDonagh’s ascension to a magnificent director, as well as writer. The darkly comedic piece brings together an absolutely incredible cast, including the likes of Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell to form a brilliant and intricate story. The basis of the movie forms around the character of Marty who attempts to put together a screenplay in order to reignite his writing career. With the help of a friend, Billy Bickle, and his dog kidnapping business, Marty might just be able to pull it off. The film suffers from inconsistent pacing which has become a point of contention for many reviewers as the film almost comes to a halt in the second act. However, the sheer scope of McDonagh’s ambition makes this stumble easily forgivable and makes Seven Psychopaths an easy recommendation for those interested in seeing a fantastic, dark comedy.
John Wick 2
★ ★ ★ ★
The John Wick trilogy is as entertaining as it gets for an action flick. Keanu Reeves stars as the model hitman, feared so much by the criminal underworld that he earns the title of ‘The Boogeyman’. John Wick 2 sees Reeves continue his killing spree in what can only be described as a ‘ballet of violence’. The film strives and succeeds to create the most action-packed fight scenes in cinema. What sets John Wick 2 apart from the other films within its genre is its propensity for innovation, creating some of the most entertaining action scenes since Reeves’ magnum opus The Matrix. Of course, focusing so heavily on making such iconic brawls means that other parts of the film suffer, such as the plot. However, this is not the backbone of John Wick 2. The film is meant to be enjoyed, not scrutinised over. Its main function is to entertain its audience and it constantly over-delivers on that front.
★ ★ ★ ★
When discussing Netflix crime dramas, Criminal UK is a diamond in the rough. Totalling only three episodes in length, this bite sized series is perfect for that evening in with a cup of tea, as long as you’re prepared for a fervent contest of wits. The show focuses on the intense battle that takes place in the interrogation room between criminal and detective. Criminal UK redefines the crime genre; granting the audience insight into a world previously only teased within the genre. Starring the likes of David Tennant and Hayley Atwell, the show presents brilliant character studies, emphasising an importance on flawless acting rather than big budget post-production work. Criminal UK is an easy recommendation as it rarely puts a foot wrong. The only detracting feature is the final episode, which feels like a lacklustre capstone to an otherwise flawless series.
Brendan O’Brien – Film & TV Writer