Seven Psychopaths (2012) – Released in Cinemas Now

Directed by:
Written by:


Certificate: 15

Running Time: 110 mins

Reviewer: David Gillespie – Offficial HCF Artist

Considering that In Bruges is one of the greatest films to arrive in the last 5 years, it is maybe a little too much to expect director, Martin McDonough to come up with a movie that manages to match, never mind surpass, its predecessor. Seven Psychopaths stays close to the formula that made the 2008 film work so well. He has assembled a fine cast of character actors, including Colin Farrell returning to play the lead role albeit as the straight man. The film blends interesting concepts, black humour with short bursts of bloody violence, yet for some reason or other things don’t knit together this time around.

The story begins with alcoholic screenwriter, Larry (Colin Farrell) mulling over the contents of his new script, Seven Psychopaths. His acting/ dog thief buddy, Billy (Sam Rockwell) is worried about his friend’s over reliance on drink to guide him through his writer’s block. He attempts to help Larry by inserting an advert in the local rag for psychopaths with interesting yarns to contact them. They get one in the form of Zachariah (Tom Waits) who explains that he will allow Larry to use his macabre tale in return for a message being left before the final credits for his former partner in crime and lover, Maggie (Amanda Mason Warren).

Meanwhile Billy and associate, Hans (Christopher Walken) have inadvertently (or have they?) abducted a Shih-Tzu from a trigger happy, mob boss (Woody Harrelson), who will stop at nothing to get his beloved pooch back. Meanwhile Larry, Billy and Hans bicker about the common stereotypes associated with Hollywood psycho-thrillers and the direction that Larry’s storyline should take. They can all only hope that Billy’s suggestion of an ultraviolent bloodbath finale is not the direction that their destiny leads.

Seven Psychopaths is an entertaining and amusing caper that pokes fun at the violent, indie thrillers popularised by Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction in the 1990’s. Unfortunately by focusing and in some cases, mimicking this genre of film, its own identity suffers and loses credibility.  Rather than go for a straight narrative it follows a similar structure to the likes of True Romance or Two Days in the Valley, where storyline is replaced with ingenious sequences and eccentric characters. When these parts work, I doubt you’ll enjoy yourself more at the cinema this year. For instance there are hilarious sequences including Hans and Billy dispute of Ghandi’s statement of ‘An eye for an eye blinds the world’ or a nonsensical, head exploding shoot out in a graveyard.

Although Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits have fun in their unhinged, wide eyed roles, it is Christopher Walken who steals the show with a typically eccentric turn as the violent criminal turned peaceful thief. He features in the film’s most powerful scene where Hans confronts Woody Harrelson’s mob boss moments after he murders his wife. There are no threats or acts of violence carried out, just gestures and expressions used. I felt a little cheated that there were not more dramatic moments like this. McDonough was able to balance the comedy and drama throughout In Bruges but he fails to achieve this in his new project. The comical elements seem to destroy the viewer’s ability to care about what happens to the characters or any interest in where the story will end. By the time that the identities of the seven psychopaths and the origins of Larry’s tales are revealed, you really couldn’t care less.  Seven Psychopaths is like acquiring a  party pack of Revels with too many of your favourite ones missing.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

About DAVID GILLESPIE 182 Articles
Fighting for clean bathrooms and restrooms since 1974.

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