You have to hand it to Cillian Murphy. Although he's not the biggest of chaps, for 88 minutes he manages to carry this rambling, inconsistent plot pretty much by himself.
Michael McCrea (Murphy) is a bad boy, but in a loveable sort of way, who runs up some loans and finds himself in debt to Dublin gangster Darren Perrier (Gleeson). Perrier is also a bad boy, but in a not-so-loveable way, and when Michael fails to come up with the cash, two of Perrier's gang call round to rough him up.
All doesn't go to plan, however, as Brenda (Whittaker), Michael's best friend and next-door neighbour, who has stolen Michael's gun with the intention of taking her own life, instead uses the firearm to kill one of the goons. Perrier is naturally upset about this turn of events, and puts a bounty out on Michael and Brenda's head - and so we come to the nub of the matter.
If all this wasn't confusing enough, McCrea's father Jim (Broadbent) has just come back into his life, telling Michael, somewhat falsely, that he's dying. With one of Perrier's gang dead, Brenda and McCrea Snr and Jnr abscond to the Dublin Mountains to bury the body and go on the run. Michael is in love with Brenda, however, and it's only a matter of time before both his feelings and his unpaid debts catch up with him.
It's difficult to convey where exactly this movie falls down, but the meandering storyline, unbelievable dialogue and wooden characterisation are good places to start. What begins as a decent, somewhat convoluted premise for a film descends very quickly into an all-out fantasy, where the audience is expected to leave its scepticism at the door and not ask too many questions. We're never told, for example, why Michael owes the money he owes, as if the reason for the debt, which is so central to the film, doesn't matter. You might forgive one or two of these oversights, but when they are the rule and not the exception it's frustrating and hard to maintain an active interest.
Peppered with over-elaborate language, which quickly becomes tiresome, what 'Perrier's Bounty' lacks most is credibility when dealing with what we are meant to believe are the hardest of Dublin criminals. If the dialogue is dodgy, the Irish accent delivered by Jim Broadbent is even worse. Alternating between full-blown Irish lilt and what must be his own English accent, it does him or the film no favours.
At times you have to feel for the actors, especially Gleeson, who can only do so much with the material they are given. A lack of depth and a reliance on stale stereotypes combine to make Gleeson's Perrier a shallow caricature of a gang boss, not the 'genuine' article. A stunning-looking Jodie Whittaker is also hopelessly miscast as the lovelorn Brenda.
It is no exaggeration to say that Cillian Murphy rescues this film from being a complete waste of time. He delivers an assured performance, and just about makes the unwatchable watchable. The cinematography is also some help, with some beautiful shots of Dublin City and the Dublin Mountains. However, this is cold comfort indeed when dealing with such sub-standard fare.
We are lucky in Ireland to have such an array of actors like Murphy, Gleeson, Colin Farrell etc who have made some great Irish films over the past decade. This, I am sad to say, is not one of them.