SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS ****
McDonagh and the Seven Psychos
It appears McDonagh has picked up right where he left off with his 2008 cult hit, In Bruge. His second collaboration with Farrell is set much closer to home and journeys a the wacky 'n' wild adventure of three unlikely heroes in an absurd mess.
When writer and alcoholic Marty (Colin Farrell) struggles to come up with the screenplay for his hopeful movie 'Seven Psychopaths', Billy (Sam Rockwell) sets out to help inspire his best friend by embodying a psychopathic serial killer who leaves a Jack of Diamonds playing card with the body of his victims. While Billy continues his daily business as a part-time dog kidnapper to reap the owner's reward money with his partner in crime Hans (Christopher Walken), the three fools become inadvertently entangled in LA's criminal underworld when they steal gangster Charlie's (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu. Charlie is not a man to be messed with and when the trio cross paths with him and their loved ones start getting a bullet in the head, the end is nigh. But an incessant Billy will do everything in his power to have it end his way.
Ultimately, what McDonagh delivers is a movie within a movie; though consciously never duping the audience, a fuzzy line is created between fiction and reality. The metafilm is by no means an unfamiliar cinematic concept, having been executed in fellow comedies/spoofs such as Adaptation, Tropic Thunder and the Scream quadrilogy, and sometimes assumes to be more clever than it actually is. Confusing the psychopaths of the film, and those that are in Marty's diagetic film. The screenplay 'Seven Psychopaths' is more of a jumble of serial killer case studies and is never fully realised. But it works successfully to distort the conventional narrative norm, disorientates the audience's attentive flow and well executes an interesting riff for storytelling. Carter Burwell too returns from In Bruge to provide the electic music composition.
Seven Psychopaths excels in its boldly comedic, tastefully parodic nature which is uphold for the most part. It thrives on Tarentino-esque jaunty dialogue and delights in its excessive bloody and broody violence, as well as half-heartedly touching upon spiritual and emotional themes. However, its overt self-awareness simmmers stupidity in it's less entertaining scenes, and- though far and few between- suffers when the concentration momentarily lies solely with the goofy ridiculouness and unoriginality of the dog chase premise. Nevertheless, these are welcomingly saved by a sudden flash of a character's ludicrously bad idea or an insight into his lurid imagination. The scenes of vivid imagery that encapture Billy's fictional dreamlike realm are the more absorbing and amusing as we enter the wishful imaginings of his dream shoot out. Billy is used both as the caricature of the 'psychopath', and unquestioningly as the prominent satirial vehicle that unhinges the generic western/action/crime movie.
McDonagh and his impressive ensemble cast creates a fun, lighthearted disposition of characters whose unliklely situation allows for a playful and humorous observation into several interpersonal conflicts. Farrell is our initial interest- a disheartened drunk whose relationship is in tatters and is struggling to fulfill his aspirations to write a dream script. But it is Billy and Hans who become the more intruguing characters, rolling the dice in a game which Marty idly is forced to play. Rockwell's highly animated, crazy-eyed madman character is most compelling and provides an engaging contrast to Walken's composed character who has religiously reformed to forget a violent history. As usual, time and time again, it is Walken's prescence that steals the screen.
Though Mickey Rourke had originally been set for the role of Charlie, McDonagh has undoubtedly been blessed with a superlative replacement, as Harrelson manifests the hot-headed, but camp, gangster with ease. Having recently played a misogynist, racist veteren cop in crime drama Rampart, and the zombie-killing, twinkie-eating badass in comedy Zombieland- not to mention the infamous serial-killer Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killer's- Harrelson appears to be perfect for the character of hard-nut gangster in a comedy film about psychopathic serial killers. And he is.
VERDICT: Overall, a thoroughly entertaining, erratic self-mockery of the textbook psychopath and the genres associated with them, using the metafilm to play on its stereotypical implications in its finest moments. Even the Irish is an alcoholic.