A breezy crime comedy with a bit of a mean streak, Perrier’s Bounty is a bit too bipolar to be fully satisfying, but remains highly watchable thanks to some colorful performances, a driving score, and a fast-paced screenplay peppered with lots of playful banter. Neither as flashy as a Guy Ritchie film nor as gritty as Get Carter, it exists in some quirky twilight zone in between, playing on our familiarity with crime cinema tropes and occasionally turning them on their head to reveal glimpses of inspiration within a derivative, yet highly enjoyable, framework.
Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy) is about to lose his legs. Not because of an illness or some tragic accident. No, Michael owes 1,000 euros to a local gangster named Darren Perrier (Brendan Gleeson). A portly, imposing underworld figure with a reputation for extreme violence, Perrier has sent his two best men to settle the debt by either collecting the money or crippling Michael. The desperate slacker is saved from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair, however, when his depressed neighbor Brenda (Jodie Whittaker) emerges from her apartment and pulls a Dirty Harry, plugging the baseball-bat-wielding thug before he can hit a bone-snapping home run. Furious at having lost one of his best enforcers, Perrier puts out a 10,000-euro bounty on Michael’s and Brenda’s heads. Now every lowlife in town is eager to throw Michael to the wolves and collect a hearty reward. Meanwhile, Michael’s estranged father, Jim (Jim Broadbent), has just reappeared with news that he’s dying of cancer. When Jim, too, becomes caught up in Michael’s mess, he decides to help his son fight back against the imposing Perrier.
With Perrier’s Bounty, writer Mark O’Rowe and director Ian Fitzgibbon have crafted a crime comedy with teeth -- a film that recognizes the absurdity of underworld dealings but refuses to whitewash the repercussions of leading a felonious lifestyle. Sure, most of the characters may be cinema stereotypes, but O’Rowe infuses them with just enough personality to make them seem more human than cartoon, even when their actions suggest otherwise; armed with the knowledge that he’s dying, Jim McCrea continually makes decisions that no sane man would. As a character, Jim is over the top, but thanks to Broadbent’s talents as an actor and O’Rowe’s skillful use of exposition, he’s still someone whom we come to care about as he attempts to redeem himself by saving his son’s life. And while Perrier himself could have easily come off as a hot-headed sadist, O’Rowe refuses to take the easy road, revealing him as a more complex figure than we may have expected with his reaction to a revelation about one of his top henchmen. By throwing us this curveball early on, O’Rowe lets us know that we may be in store for a few surprises, instilling the film with a quirky energy that helps to smooth over some of its rougher edges -- such as a woefully misguided and unnecessary narration by Golden Globe winner Gabriel Byrne.
Perrier’s Bounty is the kind of film that’s constructed not on originality or inventiveness but on character and attitude. Thanks to the talented cast and a director who knows how to keep the action moving, those traits are the ones that come through strongest, too. There are far worse ways to spend 88 minutes, and if you manage to keep your expectations in check, you might just enjoy this worthwhile hidden gem.
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- Released: 2009
- Rating: NR
- Review: A breezy crime comedy with a bit of a mean streak, Perrier’s Bounty is a bit too bipolar to be fully satisfying, but remains highly watchable thanks to some colorful performances, a driving score, and a fast-paced screenplay peppered with lots of playful b… (more)