‘Seven Psychopaths,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


I’ll admit I’m a sucker for Martin McDonagh’s work.

I’m a fan of his plays and loved his first feature, “In Bruges.” And I’m just as excited about his new film, “Seven Psychopaths,” perhaps the movie that forces you to laugh at more inappropriate moments than any film in recent memory, at least since “Ted.”

But “Ted” created comedy out of sex, drugs, race and body fluids. McDonagh creates moments of carnage that provoke guffaws; you don’t have to be British to say this guy is bloody funny.

And then bloodier – and funnier. If film violence makes you queasy– particularly, gun violence, though there are machetes wielded at one point – well, this probably isn’t the movie for you. Otherwise, you’re in for a treat – a movie about killers that makes you die with laughter.

The Irish writer-director here takes on the brutal business of organized crime, when he isn’t touching upon the even more brutal business of movie-making. He sets his film in Los Angeles, populates it with a collection of mixed nuts and starts shooting.

The ostensible center of the film is Marty (Colin Farrell), a middling screenwriter who’s late with his latest script. His girlfriend (Abby Cornish) is fed up with him; even his best friend, the loose-cannon Billy (Sam Rockwell), thinks his problem is he drinks too much and writes too little. But Billy is interested in the only part of the new script that Marty has finished: the title – “Seven Psychopaths.” Now if he only had a plot.

Billy, meanwhile, is in business with his pal Hans (Christopher Walken). They snatch dogs off the street, then wait for the inevitable Xeroxed flyers to get taped to phone poles offering a reward. They show up with dog in hand – “Is this your dog?” offered innocently – and allow themselves to be talked into accepting a cash reward.

But Billy has grabbed the wrong dog – a Shih Tzu named Bonny that belongs to the vicious gangster, Charlie (Woody Harrelson). Charlie puts his entire gang on the case to find the little dog, leaving a trail of corpses in their wake.

Oh, and one other thing: There’s a real psychopath on the loose in L.A., one who walks up on real-life gangsters and casually blows them away, leaving a jack of diamonds on each body.

There’s more – much more – in McDonagh’s script, including a dissection of what should and shouldn’t happen at the end of a good action movie.

This review continues on my website.

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