Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Seven Psychopaths

2012, 15, Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson 

Scriptwriter Marty (Colin Farrell) becomes embroiled in the criminal underworld of LA when his best pal (Sam Rockwell) kidnaps a Shih Tzu from a psychopathic gangster (Woody Harrelson.) The situation proves life-endangering for Marty, but beneficial to his script 'Seven Psychopaths', which is running short of characters. Martin McDonagh's eagerly-anticipated follow-up to 2008's In Bruges is a less contained, more frenetic Coen Brothers-meets-Tarantino yarn that contains perhaps more ambition, and certainly more crazed characters than its predecessor. Balancing the laughs with drama is a difficult thing to do, with McDonagh not particularly attempting to make a striking attempt, instead opting for violent death scenes that are layered with laughter. As a result, story is embraced over character; not that Seven Psychopaths should be judged on this. For what McDonagh has crafted is heightened by an unpredictable razor sharp script that translates to big screen with success. 

Christopher Walken as the mysterious Hans proves the film's standout (no surprises there,) although Rockwell and Harrelson both do zany, madcap and unhinged scarily well - the former an absolute knockout as Billy. Even Tom Waits' miniscule role as a serial killer who shows up on Marty's doorstep following an advertisement for psychopaths in a newspaper remains in the memory. It is down to Farrell to encompass the moral viewpoint of us audience members as the average Joe helplessly involved in the brutal bloodshed; granted, some of the film’s comedy comes from this stance – however, unlike In Bruges’ Ray, Marty's wide-eyed terror wears a little thin. A muddled structure soaks up a lot of the film’s gleaming qualities, with the feeling cropping up far too often that the film – like the eponymous script – has no clue where it’s headed. 

Although the film lacks as much empathy as its psychopathic counterparts, it remains a hilarious rollicking romp that encourages a re-watch, just as well as you sit back and revel in the meandering shenanigans and embrace the notion that Martin McDonagh is doing his utmost to entertain. Which he has done once more with a resounding success. As quotable as In Bruges. Sadly, just not as good. Perhaps seven is too many psychopaths for one film.