Jim Broadbent, perhaps the least celebrated of living Oscar-winning actors, frequently enlivens the labored Irish crime comedy Perrier’s Bounty as Jim McCrea, an estranged father with the spectral, gray-stubbled visage of a Beckett tramp and a mystical conviction that, per a late-night visitation from Death himself, his life will be snuffed out when next he sleeps. Allying himself with wastrel son Michael (Cillian Murphy), who’s in “deepest fuckin’ peril” from a missed loan payment to feared Dublin gang boss Perrier (Brendan Gleeson), Jim pours instant-coffee crystals down his throat, helps Michael bury the body of a mob enforcer before demanding cocaine, and authoritatively brandishes a pistol at thugs and cops alike.
Broadbent’s wacky paterfamilias has just enough gravity, in his 20-odd minutes on screen, to add conviction to Mark O’Rowe’s otherwise trivial script, which in the Martin McDonagh-Guy Ritchie eccentric-thriller mode, is too-cutely stuffed with surly traffic police, an attack-dog training club, and a pair of gay hoodlums (a particularly exhausted bit of whimsy). O’Rowe labels his style “cartoon naturalism,” a self-defeating conceit of cross purposes.
Director Ian Fitzgibbon efficiently uses his widescreen frame to present grungy Dublin streetscapes and the Reservoir Dogs-style warehouse lair of the Perrier gang, but his cast is largely trapped by their unremarkable roles. Murphy alternately widens his pretty blue eyes in terror as he dodges underworld bounty hunters and moonily casts them at downstairs neighbor Brenda (an improbably glamorous Jodie Whittaker), who joins the McCreas on the run after she shoots a Perrier soldier who’s poised to break Michael’s legs. Gleeson has been down the mobster road far more memorably, and besides Broadbent, only Liam Cunningham registers as a garrulous, slippery loan shark.
Despite its sleek David Holmes score, Perrier’s Bounty lacks the true music of narrative drive and originality. When its omniscient narrator (Gabriel Byrne) promises at the outset, “There’s a point to all this drivel,” he’s not to be trusted.