As a black comedy with lots of rambling conversations, hyper gangster violence and Christopher Walken, Seven Psychopaths has a distinct Quentin Tarantino flavour to it. While the offbeat tone and dumb, hard-to-like characters are also reminiscent of the Coen brothers, Tarantino’s shadow looms large throughout. The follow-up to writer-director Martin McDonagh’s well-received debut In Bruges, it’s liberally peppered with bursts of graphic brutality and yacking mobsters who like the sound of their own voice. As such, it will probably prove popular with anyone who’s nostalgic for the ’90s Indiewood scene. Or, perhaps more tellingly, if you’re the sort of person who’s likely to laugh at a head being shot completely off. To clarify, this writer is neither.
Revolving around a boozy screenwriter who’s (ironically) searching for a plot, McDonagh does have admirable ambitions. But while most of the movie’s deficiencies could be explained away as meta filmmaking (reality weaves into fantasy here as some scenes are described into life) you’re always aware that you’re watching a movie. Moreover, it’s always evident when Seven Psychopaths is trying to be unpredictable, cool or clever, as opposed to just being unpredictable, cool or clever. Some of the dialogue is well written, but in a self-conscious, wink-wink way. Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson are all fine, while Christopher Walken quietly comes out best. Even if it’s more like he’s doing a Christopher Walken impersonation than anything else.