Prior to writing and directing 2008's In Bruges, Martin McDonagh was an accomplished playwright and short film maker, responsible for plays like The Pillowman and short films like the Oscar-winning Six Shooter (2004). The film is set and was filmed in Bruges, Belgium (hence the title). It tells the story of two hitmen -- the dimwitted Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) -- who are hiding out in Bruges after botched job, awaiting orders from their superior. The trouble is, Ray doesn't want to be there and causes some needless trouble, causing a series of twists and turns and mysteries which permeate throughout the film.
After release, In Bruges was met with near universal critical acclaim. At the Academy Awards, McDonagh was nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, which he lost Dustin Lance Black's Milk. John Anderson of The Washington Post loved the film, writing "Those who know McDonagh's work know a vein of darkness will run deeply through the comedy. It has seldom been darker. Or funnier." After awarding the film 4 out of 4 stars, acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert called In Bruges "a remarkable first film" and called the performances and screenplay "ingenious." Tom Charity of CNN, however, offered up a more negative view. "For all his movie's tough talk," he wrote, "it's a sometimes slipshod construction." The film was also moderately financially successful at the box office, earning $34.5 million against a budget of $15 million. Regardless, while In Bruges will likely not be remembered as a classic, it will be remembered as a hidden gem. It is a truly tremendous film; many of its reviews indicate as such.