Working again with McDonagh, Colin Farrell (Total Recall) is Marty, a screenwriter having troubles on the job — all he has on paper is a title — and at home with his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish, Sucker Punch). These pale to the life-or-death situation his slacker pal, Billy (Sam Rockwell, The Sitter), gets him into, involving the cute shih-tzu Billy and Hans (Christopher Walken, Stand Up Guys) kidnap from a very angry gangster (Woody Harrelson, The Hunger Games).
“Madcap” is the correct word for this sort of criminal affair, made even more crazed by McDonagh’s insertion of mini-stories that depict scenes from Marty’s in-progress screenplay. While at least one of these sequences gives legendary character actor Harry Dean Stanton (Alien) the meatiest screen time he’s had in ages, they also demonstrate an out-of-control narrative that’s so unsure of which road to take, it takes all of them at once.
A celebrated playwright before moving to movies, McDonagh usually is pencil-point sharp and confident with his words. Seven Psychopaths, I’m afraid, is simply self-indulgent and overly affected in the manner of every Quentin Tarantino knockoff so many lesser filmmakers attempted after Pulp Fiction was unleashed. Remember 2 Days in the Valley? Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead? Albino Alligator? Suicide Kings? The Big Hit? The Boondock Saints?
Rather disappointingly, Seven Psychopaths is as messy and derivative as those examples, as eager to cry out for your attention and exclaim how hip it is. By the third act, largely set in the desert, it reaches a point of being insufferable. It’s a damn shame. —Rod Lott