06/12/2012

Seven Psychopaths

I think we can all agree that In Bruges was one of the finest films of 2008 that not only introduced playwright Martin McDonagh to cinemagoers but also successfully dragged Colin Farrell's career out of the gutter. The note-perfect black comedy was filled with references, one-liners and likable characters and deservedly won many awards and fans, and four years later McDonagh is back with his difficult second album and as much as I'd like to say that it's up there with his debut, it falls more than a little short of his own standards and our expectations.

Colin Farrell once again gives his magnificent eyebrows a workout as a struggling screenwriter with the world's most Irish name*. Desperate for inspiration he reluctantly teams up with his best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell); an unemployed actor who makes ends meet by dog-napping with his mate Hans (Christopher Walken). Unfortunately one of the dogs they steal belongs to Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson) who goes on a rampage in an effort to find his beloved Shih Tzu.  

The film-within-a-film structure and zippy dialogue has drawn comparisons to Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin, but as the second act begins everything gets very muddled. The beauty of In Bruges was the effective simplicity: they go to Bruges, one of them hates it, the other ones loves it and comedy ensues. In Seven Psychopaths we've got flashbacks, secondary characters who come and go, visualised stories and quick setting changes that all but kills the momentum.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh as there are some very funny moments but I feel like everyone involved is being half-arsed. Christopher Walken gives the most accurate Christopher Walken impression in the history of Christopher Walken, Farrell's character doesn't have the depth to display the acting skills he did four years ago and even Sam Rockwell, whom I love very much, is just kind of annoying. I can't help but think that McDonagh is just being meta as fuck by making a film about a screenwriter who can't write with such a messy script but that's hoping for just too much, and you'll enjoy Seven Psychopaths if you do the exact opposite of that. However if you're like me and hold In Bruges up there with the invention of double-stuf mint creme Oreos, you may feel somewhat underwhelmed.

*Marty Faranan, if you're wondering.