Monday, December 10, 2012

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS - Too random for its own good

We had a tough choice of what to see this week but we stumped for the film brought by the makers of the great, In Bruges. With that film, about two hit men sent to Bruges when a job goes wrong, director Martin McDonagh created a story that was highly original and humorous to watch. Seven Psychopaths is very much the same. It is shot the same, looks fairly low key, stars Colin Farrell as an Irishman, has a random plot, and is humorous in a quirky kind of way, however to me it failed to live up to the standard set by In Bruges. This film will certainly have its lovers, I've read many reviews that have raved about it, but there will be some viewers that just won't get it, I've also read plenty reviews that aren't so sure, and others who just sit on the fence, I am one of those people. There are moments that work, and work well, but there are too many that are just too random for their own good. It could be seen as a bit of a mess and as if the writing is just that bad or trying to be far too clever.

Farrell plays Marty, a screenwriter behind on his latest project. His new script is called Seven Psychopaths but he is struggling to come up with the seven. So far he has one; the Jack O'Diamonds who kills gangsters. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) wants to help on the script, much to Marty's reluctance, and tells him a story for psychopath number 2, a Quaker who stalked the man who killed his child for many years before slicing his own throat. Billy's business also unwittingly gives them psychopath number 3; a remorseless gangster who will do anything to get back his missing dog that Billy has kidnapped. Billy and his partner in crime make up 4 and 5, whilst 6 and 7 come from Billy's advert he places in a Hollywood magazine looking for psychopaths. They find one in a man who spent his life travelling the world with his wife and killing notorious serial killers. Now he has his seven he ventures into the desert to put together his story with Billy and his business partner Hans (Christopher Walken), who are also on the run from gangster Woody Harrelson. Whilst in the desert the trio attempt to come up with a way to end this story, from shoot outs to dialogue heavy scenes to subplots involving a Vietnamese war veteran, at the same time realising that this story isn't far off from the truth taking part in their everyday lives.

The plot is something I had an issue with. It is intriguing, it is different, but it was just far too random. Even trying to write a synopsis for it was hard as there are so many story strands that just don't connect or could be completely throw away. The film seems to be self-aware and highly satirical. Many of the lines are used to poke holes in the actual script of the film we are watching and at times it is difficult to establish what is supposedly real and what is an idea for the film Marty is writing. The dog-knapping thread has very little to do with the overall story other than to show that these people are psychopaths, where as the trailer lead you to believe that this was the through thread. The trailer also had you believe that Olga Kurylenko is one of the psychopaths, don't be fooled she is in it for about thirty seconds before being killed. This is then self referenced later on when Hans tells Marty that his female characters are poor. Another self referenced 'in joke' was with Hans talking about the pointless Vietnamese war sub plot. Marty is convinced it doesn't go anywhere and Hans suggests a way that it can. Turns out Marty was right as it has no impact on the story and it feels like this whole section was just McDonagh's way of ripping into himself for adding a pointless sub-plot. So much of it was trying to be too satirical about its flaws when it could have just been easier to create the film without them.

There are some positives though. Rockwell, Harrelson, and Walken really are on top form. Rockwell's Billy Bickle really is a random character that fully deserves the psychopath moniker and Harrelson is creepy as the gangster who is more worried about his Shih Tzu's life than his own.  Farrell is solid in another stripped down role but I still feel like we're waiting for something really good from him and haven't quite seen it yet. The humour mainly oozes from Rockwell, and at times Walken's dry approach. Billy Bickle's over the top personality and the way he allows random strangers who stroke bunnies enter his home are the sort of moments that tickle the funny bone, however many of these moments are seen in the trailer. Unfortunately other potential funny moments are lost due to the confusion as to what is really being referenced. For those who are drawn into the absurd plot these jokes will work but for those finding it all too random may struggle to see the funny side.

Billed as a crime, comedy Seven Psychopaths fails to live up to either. It isn't funny enough and the confusing plot devices could have people losing interest. It seems like a clever idea but as if they've tried too hard to show it and to me that hasn't paid off. I'm sure there will be people out there who really enjoy this film. It does have the quirky originality that many do like within a film but it will have those that just don't get it. Like I said before I am in the group in the middle who enjoyed some moments but just found it trying too hard to be something fresh and never made me feel engaged enough to understand the point of the self-referencing satirical plot threads. All in all a film this will only be remembered for being the film within the film without a film.

Pros: Some solid performances and neat ideas.

Cons: Tried too hard to get these ideas across and lost my attention because of this.

4.5 / 10

 Top 10 of 2012 so far:

1. The Dark Knight Rises     10 / 10 
2. Argo     9 / 10 
3. Skyfall    8.5 / 10
4. Silver Linings Playbook     8 / 10
5. The Hunger Games     8 / 10
6. Snow White And The Huntsman     8 / 10
7. Avengers Assemble     7.5 / 10
8. Looper     7.5 / 10
9. Ted     7.5 / 10
10. 21 Jump Street     7.5 / 10

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