In Martin McDonagh’s classic, “In Bruges,” a rookie hitman named Ray (played by Colin Farrell) and his mentor, Ken (Brendan Gleeson), find themselves lying low after Ray’s assignment is a failure. Their chaotic situation worsens when their crime boss, Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes), gets further involved, forcing the pair to go on a ride wilder than Mr. Toad’s landmark Disneyland attraction. Even though his screen time is brief, Fiennes’ unhinged energy makes this odd story even better.
On the outside, Harry might seem like the most gentlemanly crimelord. However, he’s a beast who erupts like an active volcano. Fiennes portrays this element (and all of Harry’s other “charms”) with cartoonish, unbridled rage, making his interactions with Gleeson and Farrell darkly hilarious and downright spooky near the film’s conclusion.
Even with Harry’s questionable actions, Fiennes makes his character a likable antagonist. Deep down, Harry’s the kind of guy who believes in justice and forbids gunfighting around kids or pregnant women. On the other hand, he’s also known for smashing phones to pieces in a fit of rage. Either way, it’s easy to see why Fiennes’ work here ranks so highly, even if we wish there were more of him in it.