101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

In Bruges opens with a murder inside a church and gets nervier with each successive scene. The tenebrous tale of two British hitmen on the lam in Belgium, In Bruges brazenly mixes farce with tragedy. The younger killer, Ray, despairs because he’s not yet numb to the immorality of his profession. His mentor, Ken, embraces beauty, whether it’s the stonework of ancient architecture or the prospect of helping Ray find redemption. The X factor in their adventure is crime boss Harry, who vacillates between compassion and sociopathy. Established as a brash playwright before venturing into film, McDonagh crafts moments that offend and shock and thrill all at once. Whether it’s a drug-fueled bacchanalia hosted by a crazed little person or a fateful subplot involving aggrieved Canadians, every element of In Bruges advances McDonagh’s fearless exploration of grief, rectitude, and transcendence.