Seven Psychopaths

Marty (Colin Farrell) is a hard-drinking screenwriter struggling with his latest project; a crime story without violence he calls “Seven Psychopaths.”  Wanting to help him with the script is his friend Bill (Sam Rockwell), an actor with self-control issues who more than once has punched a director during an audition.  To make ends meet, Bill is partners with Hans (Christopher Walken) in a dog abduction business.  Bill trolls the local park looking for easily snatched dogs.  When the owners of the dogs post flyers offering a reward, Hans brings the dog back and the pair pockets the cash.  Bill targets the wrong dog when he grabs a shih tzu belonging to Charlie (Woody Harrelson), a violent gangster who is crazy about his dog and goes crazy when she disappears.  Marty, who has nothing to do with the dognapping business, gets caught up in the insanity as Bill and Hans try to keep ahead of Charlie and help Marty with the script, but what do the Jack O’Diamonds killer, a duo of serial killers who kills serial killers, a Quaker, a Vietnamese priest and a woman in a hospital recovering from cancer surgery have to with any of this?

 
For the answer to these and other questions, you’ll have to watch the film.  “Seven Psychopaths” is an interesting flick with lofty ambitions; but I’m afraid the script by Martin McDonagh, who also directed, isn’t quite up to the task.  We are thrown into a story with numerous avenues down which to travel.  Some are dead ends while others actually move the plot forward.  Still others look promising but only wind up as diversions that are like those sprigs of parsley that garnish a plate in a restaurant.  They’re only there to look at and don’t add anything to the meal.  “Seven Psychopaths” has a great deal of garnish.
 
All the actors commit to their parts as variously odd characters.  Farrell is appropriately frantic when faced with the possibility of being killed by a mobster.  Rockwell acts blissfully ignorant of the chaos swirling around that’s largely of his making.  Harrelson is coldly threatening and also genuinely frightened about the fate of his dog.  Walken is…well, Walken.  The entire cast appears to be in on the gag.  These are messed up people and should be played as such.  No one steps over the line and gets so crazy you don’t believe they are real people; but that may have actually been a good idea.
 
While the film is interesting and I was always curious how each story thread would resolve, it never quite came together for me as a complete movie.  Maybe a little more insanity would have helped, preferably the right kind of craziness.  There are bits and pieces of lunacy that are meant to drive home the idea that some of these people are psychopaths but it often comes off as just being crazy for the sake of crazy.  There’s also a part of the film coming from the proposed script that feels like filler.  While it is given an exquisite amount of detail and wants to be a statement about belief and integrity and honor, it comes off as out of place and in the wrong movie.
 
“Seven Psychopaths” is rated R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.  Numerous people are shown shot in the head.  There are graphic throat cuttings, several people set on fire and various forms of torture are on display.  We see a woman topless on two occasions as well as a woman wearing a wet, white t-shirt that leaves nothing to the imagination.  The drug use is mentioned, it’s effects are shown but the actual use is not.  Foul language is common.
 
Perhaps my biggest problem with the movie is it lacks focus.  It really wants to be this wild and crazy dark comedy caper but only winds up being a bit of a lark.  With this cast it could have been much, much more and I fault it for living up to neither the actors nor the title.
 
“Seven Psychopaths” gets three disappointed guitars out of five.
 
There are two new films opening this week and each wants your money very badly.  Which will you choose to send me to?
 
Alex Cross—A police detective and psychologist is on the trail of a sadistic serial killer.  Can he catch the killer before someone he loves becomes the next victim?
 
Paranormal Activity 4—All the activity has led to this and it appears to be centered on a creepy neighborhood boy who just moved in across the street.
 
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently in theatres.
 
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
 
Questions or comments can be sent to stanthemovieman@att.net.  Follow Stan on Twitter @moviemanstan.