While Hollywood has belatedly cooled on snarky, loud-quiet-loud proto-Tarantino gangster comedies, our English-speaking brethren across the Atlantic remain steadfast, pumping public money into spawns of Sexy Beast and maintaining full employment for slumming stage-trained thespians. By no means the worst of the lot, Gaelic import Perrier's Bounty might be the most rote, moving dutifully through the stations of the genre without establishing or generating any motivational thrust. Melancholic mess Michael (Cillian Murphy) has just a few hours to repay an unexplained debt to the town heavy, Perrier (Brendan Gleeson), but his efforts at scoring cash only get him into deeper trouble. He goes on the lam with his tweaked, gun-happy pa (Jim Broadbent), but shows more concern for a heartbroken crush (Jodie Whittaker) than he does for the bounty on his head. Hollowed of plausibility, sincere characterization, and any sense of real-life danger, what remains is a thin and damned spotty skin of situational humor. For every welcome gag—vindictive tow-truckers keep booting getaway cars—there's a callous barrage of spit-take punch lines involving bodies hacked, shot, and Foley-thumped to death. Instead of inspiring discomfort—should we laugh or cringe?—such violence engenders only ambivalence, onscreen and off. Ivan Fitzgibbon's film is so steadfastly blithe that one yearns for a flicker of pretension, some small sign that there's a guiding principle or purpose other than to take the piss, tiredly.
Broadbent (left) and Murphy play Irishmen in need of cash.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., July 16–Thurs., July 22. Rated R. 88 minutes.