Perrier’s Bounty (2009)
★ / ★★★★
Michael (Cillian Murphy) owes a man named Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) a grand and two thugs, Ivan (Michael McElhatton) and Orlando (Don Wycherley), will make sure that he makes a payment in full by the end of the day. If Michael failed to do so, he would recompense with more than a few broken bones. However, when one of the henchmen ends up dead, Perrier starts a bounty for Michael—to be delivered alive just so he can suffer. Soon, Michael and his neighbor, Brenda (Jodie Whittaker), find themselves running all over Dublin as various men hope to get their hands on the reward.
Written by Mark O’Rowe and directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, “Perrier’s Bounty” comes across as recycled, barely watchable trash. Although it is clearly inspired by Guy Ritchie’s signature movies, it does not have enough meat on its bones and substance in its marrow to create first-rate entertainment that engages the eyes, heart, and mind. Instead, it is mostly composed of scenes with slight bantering between the characters but none of them are particularly witty or funny. Thus, it feels like a chore to sit through and I was left wondering when it was going to take off. It never does.
Despite the flying and ricochetting bullets, the heart of the film is Michael’s relationship with his father. Jim (Jim Broadbent) tells his son that he is dying. Although Michael is taken aback by the news, he has very little time to sympathize given his current situation. Murphy and Broadbent make a somewhat amusing odd couple because they are good actors. However, one never believes that their characters are true father and son.
The reason is because the screenplay rarely bothers to tackle the human drama head-on. When the two are about to connect in a meaningful way, the scene is often interrupted by men with guns and mean-looking demeanors. Is it because the movie is supposed to have this “tough” quality to it that it is afraid to deal with real emotions? Is it because the film is made for men? Are “real men” unable to handle emotions like the struggle in communicating their love for their own fathers? On many levels, I found it insulting in its reductionism.
The action is nothing special. I suppose I enjoyed the fact that Michael, far from a killer, does not really know how to shoot a gun: he looks at his targets, looks down, and presses the trigger with the hope of hitting someone. I did not find Perrier’s thugs that intimidating either. They look like actors trying to be these so-called tough guys but not actually embodying them. Expectedly, most convincing is Gleeson. I am convinced this man can play anyone or anything. He can tell a story just by standing in one spot and glaring at someone.
And then there is the romance subplot that is far too contrived. Of course Michael and Brenda will eventually get together. I saw no reason to have Brenda as one of the major characters since what she does most of the time is whine about her current boyfriend. I sensed that the writer had no idea how to create an interesting female character so he chose to rely on stereotypes.
“Perrier’s Bounty” is devoid of suspense, thrill, drama, comedy, and action. It does not challenge us to do anything other than to sit in our chairs and watch images go by. If that isn’t a depressing experience, I don’t know what is.