Saturday, November 3, 2012

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012)

Written & Directed by Martin McDonagh


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA.  October 24, 2012  7:15PM



"Seven Psychopaths" is a pumped-up, tough-talking, testosterone-heavy romp by the acclaimed playwright and occasional filmmaker, Martin McDonagh. This follow-up to his first feature length film, "In Bruges" (that was one of my favorites back in 2008) which starred Colin Farrell in one of best film roles, has the actor returning along with a colorful cast of well-known eccentric performers in a admirable but uneven caper involving another plot featuring the writer's well-known fascination with unpleasant stories that allow him to find great, unexpected humor in the grittier, seedier and bloodier elements in life

In a part that allows him the rare opportunity to speak with his natural brogue, Mr. Farrell plays Marty,.an Irish screenplay writer living in L.A. He's got a title, "Seven Psychopaths" and not much else as he struggles to come up with a story. His live-wire buddy, Billy (Sam Rockwell) is concerned as he thinks Marty's got a drinking problem and his Australian girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) is wrong for him which leads him to believe are the causes for his block.

Billy is in no position to be critical, however, as he makes his living stealing the beloved pets of people, then after a hefty reward is posted, returning the animals to their owners while appearing reluctant to collect the cash offer. Billy's associate in crime, Hans (Christopher Walken), a religious man with a mysterious past needs money as his wife is dying of cancer. Their seemingly brilliant scheme runs into an impending snag when they kidnap the wrong pooch. The dog in question belongs to a deadly basket-case of a gangster, Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson) and he's completely distraught over the loss of his precious, little doggie. Once Costello gets wind that it was no mere accident and who might be behind the dognapping, he sets his sights on a murderous quest in retrieving his pet. Marty gets swept up in the mayhem and winds up on the run with Billy and Hans while they each offer ideas to help him finish his script.

Although he delivers a few laughs, Mr. Farrell is basically reduced to a twitchy, straight man, left to reacting to all of the insanity around him while the rest of the actors, Mr.Walken, Tom Waits as a rabbit-loving psycho with a wild tale to tell and most especially Mr. Rockwell, seem to be having a grand time with explosively broad performances, allowing them plenty of opportunities to remind how they earned their reputations.

With the script filled with vividly, atypical dialogue, quirky, barbaric characters, pitch-dark humor and extremely bloody violence, it will unavoidably bring to mind the films of Tarantino. Although Mr.McDonagh's work doesn't exactly sparkle or excite like the writer of "Pulp Fiction" or "Jackie Brown" but he still has his own subtle charms that shine through as he certainly knows how to write rich, textured funny stories. The skewering of Hollywood and it's deep love of cliches comes across as accurate but a bit too obvious and while he brings attention to how women are not exactly treated well in action flicks, he offers nothing much better as the few actresses present (which include the Oscar nominee for "Precious", Gabourey Sidibe as Costello's fearful dog walker) are seen briefly and only seem to be around to hurl insults and degrade. Even Ms Cornish and Olga Kurylenko who plays Costello's girlfriend are prominently displayed in the film's poster but their total time on screen combined only adds up to maybe ten minutes. Mr. McDonagh needs to make more of an effort to use female characters much more effectively.

"Seven Psychopaths" runs out of steam by the conclusion with a jumble of highly improbable actions that felt too mannered and forced. Despite this, the film is still a fun ride for most of the trip that offers (in between all of the bloodshed) some engagingly, wacky humor and reliably off-the-wall comedic performances.