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Perrier's Bounty -- Film Review

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If there's one defining characteristic among English criminals, it's that they apparently are a quirky lot. That, at least, is the conclusion one draws from the endless series of comically tinged British crime thrillers that have come down the pike during recent years, of which the mediocre "Perrier's Bounty" is the latest example.

These types of movies tend to attract stellar casts -- no doubt excited about the prospect of waving guns while spouting pithy one-liners -- and this one is no exception. The terrific ensemble includes Cillian Murphy, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson and Gabriel Byrne as the voice of the Grim Reaper.

Murphy plays the central role of Michael, a man who has gotten in way over his head in terms of debt to Perrier (Gleeson), Dublin's most ruthless loan shark. Looking to exact payment either in terms of cash or Michael's blood, Perrier sends his henchmen, who also happen to be gay lovers, after him.

Complicating Michael's efforts to evade his pursuers are his father (Broadbent), inexplicably convinced that he's going to die the next time he falls asleep, and a suicidal neighbor (Jodie Whittaker) despondent over a recent break-up.

Although it's fun at times watching the veteran performers go through their increasingly absurd paces with roguish enthusiasm -- Broadbent, in particular, is a hoot -- the film's laborious efforts to blend brutal, hard-edged violence with would-be whimsical humor quickly wear thin.

Director Ian FitzGibbon displays technical dexterity in his handling of the action set pieces and the handsome widescreen lensing of the suitably grungy Dublin locations. But "Perrier's Bounty" ultimately proves a skimpy one, indeed.

Opened: Friday, May 21 (IFC)
Production: Parallel Films Prods., Number 9 Films, Premiere Picture
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Jodie Whittaker, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, Michael McElhatton, Don Wycherley, Liam Cunningham, Brendan Coyle, Conleth Hill, Gabriel Byrne
Director: Ian FitzGibbon
Screenwriter: Mark O'Rowe
Producers: Alan Moloney, Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen
Director of photography: Seamus Deasy
Editor: Tony Cranstoun
Music: David Holmes
Production designer: Amanda McArthur
Costume designer: Keith Madden