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"Seven Psychopaths" Review

It's hard to synopsize the plot of the shaggy dog pseudo-noir Seven Psychopaths, not because it would spoil the surprises (which it would), but because it's so all over the place, it's not really explicable.

It opens with a pair of hitmen awaiting their target at the Lake Hollywood reservoir who, shall we say, are prevented from doing their job. Then we meet writers blocked screenwriter Colin Farrell who is struggling with his latest script, a story with seven psychopaths of different backgrounds and back stories. His pal, Sam Rockwell, is a dognapper - stealing peoples' dogs at the park and collecting the reward money with sidekick Christopher Walken - who is trying to help Ferrell cope with his alcoholism and prod him along with tales of psychopaths, which are told as flashbacks/dream sequences or in the form of respondents to a classified ad. (A very weird sequence involving Tom Waits.) Complicating matters is the fact that Rockwell has stolen Woody Harrelson's beloved pooch and he's hellbent to get it back.

Eventually, the lines between legend and reality start to blur and the movie starts to become a meta-narrative contemplation about the tropes of post-Tarantino gangster movies (though not explicitly stated that way) and that's where Seven Psychopaths both starts to come into focus and fall apart. For the first half, I was wondering how this was all supposed to amount to something; as it went along and things started to connect, it seemed like it was going to pay off but as Rockwell's wild card character got more wild cardish, it started to become frenetic while believing itself to be energetic.

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (whose In Bruges is stacked up in a to-watch pile someplace) reunites with Ferrell but he's stuck with being a passive straight man to Rockwell's driver. Walken is less weird than usual (by his standards these days), but the couple of female characters (Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko) are non-entities; something the screenplay itself comments on, though they still end up on the poster though they basically have one meaningless scene apiece.

If you're in the mood for a bloody, crazy, somewhat incoherent flick with some showy performances and dark Grand Guignol comic touches, you could do worse than Seven Psychopaths. I mean, you can't just keep watching Pulp Fiction on cable every other night it's on, right?

Score: 6/10. Rent it.


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