10 Movies That Made You Sympathise With Terrible People

8. In Bruges

A Clockwork Orange
Focus Features

Hitmen always make for compelling movie protagonists. We as an audience are fascinated by the secret underworld of assassins, not just the rules and codes that go with the profession, but the burning question - what type of person would kill other people for money? They are not bloodthirsty psychopaths, just normal men with a violent job. But that doesn’t make cold-blooded murder any less terrible, folks.

In Bruges follows two hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) on an apparent holiday in Bruges. The two have been sent to Bruges after Ray, on his first ever job, accidentally kills a child. Despite the many murders Ken has committed and Rays tragic accident, the two assassins behave like two normal humans on holiday, and this is what allows us to sympathise so intensely with them both.

Ray is suicidal with guilt. You can see the deep regret in Farrell’s eyes in every shot. Ken, when given his orders, is heavy with conflict - to adhere to the code or to spare the life of a broken young man. And somehow In Bruges manages to be absolutely hilarious. Martin McDonagh’s dialogue is simultaneously witty, touching, and downright shocking (the racist dwarf scene, my word). We sympathise with these men because we find them funny, we see them fall in love, and, despite their violent jobs, they appreciate the value of life, especially the lives of the innocent.

By the film’s end both men are redeemed in death - Ken is a martyr, and Ray receives the punishment that he would have otherwise delivered unto himself.


Born in Essex, lives in South London. MA in Film & Literature, actor, and playwright.