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Bang, bang; smack, smack; run, run; bang, bang. That’s the essence of Perrier’s Bounty, with brief stops for romance and dog-killing. And there’s a running car-boot joke. It’s all fairly tedious, which is a surprise given the A-list cast and script from Intermission and Boy A’s usually reliable Mark O’Rowe.
O’Rowe and director Ian Fitzgibbon try and fail to make the film an Irish version of semiwacky English capers such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The elements are there: Cillian Murphy plays Michael, a slouched, twitchy ne’er-do-well who owes money to some thugs and needs to borrow more money to pay them off. Interrupting Michael’s plans is a beautiful neighbor with a cheating boyfriend and the sudden appearance of his estranged father (Jim Broadbent, scruffy, wide-eyed, and a bit loony), who’s convinced that he’s dying. Watching over the chess pieces is the Grim Reaper (Gabriel Byrne), who supplies occasional narration.
Even at a mere 88 minutes, Perrier’s Bounty feels like a long sit. The couldn’t-be-simpler story piles on characters (including head thug Perrier, played by Brendan Gleeson, and his various minions) in lieu of plot development. They’re all believably seedy—it’s especially nice to see Murphy play a somewhat-noble dirtbag for a change—but ace acting can’t save a screenplay that dawdles where it should hasten. Excepting that stomach-sinking scene in which Perrier dispatches two dogs, there’s really nothing to hate about the film; it simply never meshes. The narrator opens with the comment “Now relax yourself and pay attention. There’s a point to all this drivel.” But before long it becomes clear that the Reaper is wrong.