Michael (Murphy) is a slacker who has four hours to pay back his loan shark Perrier (Gleeson) before a bounty is put out on him. On this fateful day, he teams up with his dying father Jim (Broadbent) and his neighbour Brenda (Whittaker), who accidentally gets involved in his mess. As they run around Dublin trying to stay one step ahead of the goons, as well as a couple of zealous traffic wardens, this trio is forced to examine their lives and relationships, often in the face of imminent injury.
Everyone in this film either wields or is whacked by a stick, spanner or bat, and this constant comedy-style violence somehow makes the more grisly mayhem more palatable. The filmmakers also pack scenes with witty observations that keep us smiling, while the sharp dialog and increasingly crazed situations keep us gripped. It's not hugely original; the film is essentially just a series of farcically life-threatening encounters, but as the situation gets more desperate, the freewheeling structure wins us over.
Murphy is charming presence as a scruffy loser in over his head who gets through life mainly on luck. Whittaker has a relatively thankless female sidekick role, although at least Brenda has a short fuse, while Gleeson is fine as the hard-talking, soft-centred villain. But it's Broadbent who steals every scene with foul-mouthed bluster. He's clearly loving every minute of it, so we do too.
In the end, this feels like every other Irish or British crime comedy we've ever seen, as these pathetic people race around against the odds. We never doubt that it will all turn out well in the end, even if a few people get injured (or worse) along the way. And at least the script is packed with goofy touches, most of which pay off in very funny ways, from the gay thugs to the running gags about wheel clamps. It's not hugely inventive, but it is good escapist fun.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th March 2010
Distributed by: IFC Films
Production compaines: Premiere Picture, Parallel Film Productions, Irish Film Board
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 18
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Screenwriter: Mark O'Rowe
Starring: Cillian Murphy as Michael McCrea, Brendan Gleeson as Darren Perrier, Jim Broadbent as Jim McCrea, Padraic Delaney as Shamie, Natalie Britton as Catherine, Gabriel Byrne as Voice of the Grim Reaper (voice), Jodie Whittaker as Brenda, Brendan Coyle as Jerome, Michael McElhatton as Ivan, Don Wycherley as Orlando, Conleth Hill as Russ, Domhnall Gleeson as Clifford, Pat McCabe as Mulligan (as Patrick McCabe), Ned Dennehy as Clamper, Glenn Speers as Lar - clamper 2, Liam Cunningham as The Mull