Postmodernism

Seven Psychopaths is criminally funny

They will not take any Shih Tzu.

Demented Fans of Martin McDonagh’s Bruises In Brugge should go homicidal for Seven Psychopaths, his star-studded Los Angeles sequel to his beloved European debut. Salting similar ground to his fugitive Brussels-located hitmen, Seven Psychopaths unleashes a heptad of murderous killers in a sprawling, unruly miasma of cinematic humor and gory comedy, a movie massacre that pretty much comes with deft genre deconstruction and seriously funny lines. Like a cyanide pint of Guinness, it’s inviting and deadly charged, but seems to fade away like a chronic hangover once the immediate thrill fades from memory.

Struggling writer Marty (Colin Farrell) struggles to pen his new screenplay Seven psychopaths, looking for inspiration beyond the promising title, he looks to his immediate life for a potential burst of creative fervor. His drinking, like the movie, is slightly out of control and his relationship with his girlfriend Kaya (Abbie Cornish) is also precarious, made worse by the offensive behavior of his best friend Billy in another disheveled performance by repetitive scene stealer Sam Rockwell. Billy has a part-time gig as a dog kidnapper with his scarf-draped partner Hans (Christopher Walken), both of whom engage in a cunning scheme to return the sequestered animals in exchange for reward money from well-to-do owners. loved ones, but their luck runs out when they decant the Shih-Tzu from crime boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson) and his henchmen blow up their dogmatic scam. As the criminals stalk ruthlessly, the film weaves together aspects of Marty’s script and loosely defined legends and stories, as reality blurs between their real-life predicament and Marty’s gruesome genre thriller.

Image: Momentum Images

This meta movie is all about deconstructing the cliches and tropes of the violent movies we all know and love, you don’t give your main characters the last names Bickle and Kiewslowski without a few postmodern references the movie wallows in, at its brutal charm before ideas and inspiration dry up. The typewriter font’s fractured interludes are probably the film’s strong points, like the mini-movies they’re weaved into the narrative as hugely entertaining meta-narratives, some of which twist into the main story of intriguing and clever way. All the actors – and this is of course a cast for all genre-lovers – are let loose with broad pantomime performances, with Rockwell stealing the show as the slippery Billy, as for Christopher Walken, he was clearly put in the spotlight. Christopher Walken mode, with all the affectations and pauses and ticks and turns of phrase that have turned him into a parody of himself, but in the heightened reality of this movie, his role works, and he can be the only reason to give the film a second viewing.

The blood-splattered humor and playful deconstruction of storytelling weaknesses and infrastructure come to a halt near the end of the film, its enthusiasm and intelligence waning under the hot desert sun, though there are still uneven laughs to be had (Billy’s speech through the way he sees the script ending in a delirious gunfight above us possibly the funniest sequence of the year) Seven Psychopaths runs out of ammunition it becomes a very jagged and uneven work that crumbles into a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive, rough whole. Overall though, the film is criminally funny, with the exchanges between Marty and Billy particularly enjoyable, and McDonagh even takes the time to address the lack of three-dimensional women in these testosterone-sweating gun-plays. Oh, and Tom Waits is in for a thoroughly memorable performance, be sure to stick around for a post-credits encore that should have you walking out of the theater with a light chuckle…..

John McEntee

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published under our former imprint, Sound On Sight.

Seven Psychopaths
Image: Momentum Images