Saturday 3 June 2017

Movie Review: Seven Psychopaths (2012)

A dark comedy, Seven Psychopaths contains fragments of good ideas but quickly dissolves into an uncoordinated mishmash.

In Los Angeles Marty (Colin Farrell) is a struggling and hard drinking writer with a vague idea for a screenplay about seven psychopaths. His lively best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) tries to help by pitching wild story ideas and placing newspaper ads inviting psychopaths to step forwards and tell their story. On the side Billy operates a pet abduction business with his partner in crime Hans (Christopher Walken).

Billy and Hans choose the wrong victim when they abduct Bonny, a dog belonging to violent gang boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson). This sets off a chain of events placing Hans' hospitalized wife Myra in grave danger, and forces Billy to reveal his true nature as a showdown in the desert looms.

An attempt to combine the irreverence of In Bruges with a Pulp Fiction inspired tone, Seven Psychopaths is as patchy and unsatisfying as Marty's perpetually unfinished screenplay. Directed and written by Martin McDonagh (who also directed In Bruges starring Farrell), the film is incohesive, featuring various sketches that sometimes stand up nicely on their own but never gel into a meaningful whole.

Sub-stories include a Quaker who avenges his daughter's murder; hitmen who are themselves terminated while awaiting their victim; a man named Zachariah Rigby (Tom Waits) with a colourful history of murdering serial killers; and a Vietnamese priest in a motel room with a prostitute but with killing on his mind. These stories may or may not be related to anything going on in Marty's real life, but they come across as McDonagh collecting partial screenplay concepts, throwing them at the wall and hoping something sticks.

With no shortage of style, violence, profanity, blood and gore, Seven Psychopaths ends with a thematically muddled climax, angry psychopaths on the loose firing guns in all directions but still not hitting the narrative target.

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