Greetings again from the darkness. Writer/Director John Michael McDonagh is the brother of Martin McDonagh, who brought us the excellent In Bruges (which also starred Brendan Gleeson). I figured it best to say that upfront because there is no way to avoid comparisons of the two films. Clearly these men grew up in the same house and share the brilliant dialogue gene.
Brendan Gleeson delivers a powerful and hilarious performance as a local cop (Garda) in rural Ireland. His Sgt Gerry Boyle is quite an enigma – he gets along great with locals, yet struggles to fit into society. This is never more apparent than when FBI Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) hits town on a drug smuggling investigation. The key to their relationship is crystallized at the moment an exasperated Agent Everett says to Boyle, “I can’t tell if you are really smart or really dumb”. Of course, I am paraphrasing because the F-word gets literally worn out in this movie. There aren’t many lines I can actually quote in print. But the word rolls off Gleeson’s tongue as if it’s a work of art … especially in conversation with his ailing, equally colorful mother, played well by the always terrific Fionnula Flanagan.
The international drug smugglers being chased are a trio led by Liam Cunningham and the always interesting Mark Strong. The endless rips, insults and jokes are fired rapidly at Americans, Brits and anyone unfortunate enough to hail from Dublin. Boyle uses his Irish background as a crutch for his racism and insensitivity. But he leaves no doubt about his expertise as a cop. Heck he even recognizes the importance of some 9 year old kid riding around on a pink bicycle. That’s just another example of the off-center approach to story telling offered by McDonagh.
If you are a fan of In Bruges; Snatch; or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I think you will enjoy this one. It falls just short of that level, but not by much. Gleeson is outstanding and the story is simple enough, yet with plenty of twist, turns and hilarity. However, it should come with a warning to viewers: tune in your ears quickly or the Irish/Gaelic dialect will leave you behind.
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you enjoy the off-color cynicism of In Bruges, Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are easily offended OR you need movie dialogue to be easily understood
watch the trailer: