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Grimly Reaping a Bounty

MOVIE REVIEW
Perrier's Bounty (2010)

STILL_5
IFC Films

There’s a set formula to the witty-Irish-gangster narrative, with its blend of sudden bloody violence and offbeat characterizations. Ian Fitzgibbon’s “Perrier’s Bounty” adheres to that standard firmly, down to the griminess that informs its portrait of the Dublin underworld, the dapperly attired men with guns who spout unexpectedly hip viewpoints and the addled nature of overwhelmed protagonist Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy).

Still, it’s an effective genre entry, propelled by the strong performances of Mr. Murphy, Jodie Whittaker and especially Jim Broadbent, a cohesive cinematic vision and a narrative that features enough moments of spontaneity to avoid coming across as just a tired rehash.

Mr. Murphy’s Michael is a troubled nice-guy schlub who owes some bad men a sizable debt he can’t pay. A shooting interrupts things as they’re about to visit bodily harm upon him; and sure enough, Michael, his downstairs neighbor/secret crush Brenda (Ms. Whittaker) and his dad Jim (Mr. Broadbent) are on the run from kingpin Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) and his henchmen.

The movie’s success testifies to the enduring charisma of Messrs. Murphy and Broadbent, two terrific actors who rarely — if ever — have been given the chance to play regular guys caught up in a swirl of unexpected circumstances. Mr. Murphy sheds the oddball characterizations typically forced upon him and blends authentically into the slang-inflected, gritty Dublin street culture. As his character chugs coffee grounds and snorts cocaine in a desperate drive to thwart death by staying awake, Mr. Broadbent plays hip and smart, demonstrating a previously underutilized knack for carrying out broad urbane humor.

Mr. Fitzgibbon’s strong sense of craft — he ably evokes the seedy atmosphere of the underlit nighttime streets and maintains a quick, spirited pace — further helps the film breeze by with enough energy to distract from the burdens of its conventional premise. One can only imagine what he might do with more unique material. In his hands, and those of Messrs. Murphy and Broadbent, what might have been a straightforward Tarantino/Ritchie impersonation becomes something more, a worthy if minor addition to an ever-expanding canon.

PERRIER’S BOUNTY

Opens on May 22 in Manhattan and on March 26 in Britain.

Directed by Ian Fitzgibbon; written by Mark O’Rowe; director of photography, Seamus Deasy; edited by Tony Cranstoun; music by David Holmes; production designer, Amanda McArthur; costumes by Keith Madden; produced by Alan Moloney, Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen; released by IFC Films (United States) and Optimum Releasing (Britain). This film is not rated by M.P.A.A. and rated 15 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Cillian Murphy (Michael), Jodie Whittaker (Brenda), Jim Broadbent (Jim), Brendan Gleeson (Perrier), Michael McElhatton (Ivan), Don Wycherly (Orlando), Liam Cunningham (the Mutt), Brendan Coyle (Jerome), Conleth Hill (Russ) and Gabriel Byrne (Voice of the Reaper).

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