(director/writer: Martin McDonagh; cinematographer: Ben Davis; editor: Lisa Gunning; music: Carter Burwell; cast: Colin Farrell (Marty Faranan), Sam Rockwell (Billy), Woody Harrelson (Charlie Costello), Christopher Walken (Hans), Linda Bright Clay (Myra), Tom Waits (Zachariah), Abbie Cornish (Kaya), Zeljko Ivanek (Paulo), Gabourey Sidibe (Sharice), Michael Pitt (Larry), Michael Stuhlbarg (Tommy), Harry Dean Stanton (Man in Hat), Kevin Corrigan (Dennis), Long Nguyen (Viet Cong Priest Terrorist), Helena Mattsson (Blonde Lady), Amanda Warren (Maggie), Christine Marzano (The Hooker), Olga Kurylenko (Angela); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Martin McDonagh/Graham Broadben/Pete Czernin; CBS Films; 2012)

You might like this film better if you think exploding heads is a funny bit.


Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Irish playwright turned movie director Martin McDonagh(“In Bruges”) turns in a disappointing irreverent comedy, that proves a lively title does not necessarily make for a good pic. It offers a few laughs, a convoluted plot, a volatile scenario that soon becomes grating as satire and tries but fails to be edgy in telling how a Hollywood script might be tacked together.

In LA, alcoholic Irish screenwriter Marty (Colin Farrell) is struggling to live up to a stereotype, get along with his hottie girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) and write a screenplay he calls Seven Psychopaths, but has not written a word. The writer is soon inspired by a masked killer who bumps off two Mafia hitmen (Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Pitt). Marty’s screwy unemployed actor pal Billy (Sam Rockwell), wanting to be helpful in the creative process, places a classified ad for psychopaths in the LA newspaper and scores weirdo serial killer of serial killers Zachariah (Tom Waits). Ideas flow even easier for the writer when Billy and con man senior citizen dandy, Hans (Christopher Walken), partner in a scheme to kidnap valued dogs from their wealthy owners and return them for a reward. The con men kidnap a Shih Tzu belonging to crazed gun-wielding Mafia boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson), who vows to kill the kidnappers–which qualifies him as another of the seven psychopaths. The messy film, that seems not to care much about its plot’s logical development but on how clever it seems, goes off on tangents as it tells of a dream sequence about a psychopath Viet Cong soldier (Long Nguyen), whose family was butchered at My Lai and is dressed as a priest currently seeking revenge in Phoenix as a terrorist. There’s also a turgid subplot about the Quaker (Harry Dean Stanton) seeking a vengeful justice, and something about slit throats initiated by a serial killer.

The film fails to be cohesive, its rant against violence by being ultra-violent goes nowhere, its cartoonish take on Hollywood is shallow and the humor was too silly to hit my funny bone, but it takes a few choice whacks at writers who try too hard to fit into the Hollywood system and thereby forget about scripting anything literary (like this film!). A talented cast seems wasted on a story line that wants to say something important but can only utter unconvincing cliched bromides such as violence begets violence and that Hollywood films need for their action pictures to have inevitable bloody endings to thrill an audience. Now Tarantino can pull off a queasy film like this and make it seem right, while McDonagh has too much the heavy hand to pull off a Tarantino-esque film. In my view, if it weren’t for the star-filled cast this would be a straight to cable flick. You might like this film better if you think exploding heads is a funny bit and that weird equals funny.