Seven psychos, one of them is Christopher Walken, it’s never going to be dull is it?


Directed by Martin McDonagh

Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Waits, Woody Harrelson

A scriptwriter with a big drink problem and writers block indirectly and unwittingly becomes involved with some serious underworld figures after his oddball actor friend kidnaps a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu. Events spiral out of control as murderous psychopaths influence events and involve the hapless writer.

Clearly this is story about the problems of writing a script or story written by someone who writes scripts and screenplays for a living. From the offset any film that features Sam Rockwell, Harry Dean Stanton, Christopher Walken and troubadour Tom Waits is going to be offbeat and memorable and will never be completely bad and have some merit for the viewer. So my view was already skewed as soon as saw the cast list on screen at the opening.

As I expected all the acting in the film is top notch with special mentions to Sam Rockwell, who is very good in anything he does, Christopher Walken, just having a Christopher Walken role, and Tom Waits, also just having a Tom Waits role. The comedic aspects of this film are knowing and very funny, in particular Rockwell’s Michael Bay end of film scrip enactment and the violence is very gruesome and unrelenting throughout.

The film starts of violently, breathlessly and funny but like so many modern films bogs down in the end quarter and is too long. You can’t drag a viewer in at one hundred miles an hour and then just as you are getting used to it change down a gear and apply the brakes.

As I generally like output of McDonagh I was never going to dislike this film but from a personal point of view I am not sure he was being ‘oh so clever’ by pointing out through Christopher Walken’s character that Colin Farrell’s scriptwriter’s screen plan had no strong women’s roles and those that were there had few lines and were killed or threatened and then the film this was in was exactly the same. I guess you’d have to ask him but any female actor in this film must feel short changed. It is the 21st century after all.

Overall I felt the violence was bit over-the-top but it was also deliberately show as this during scenes in the film but as I get older whether it is ironic or just gorenography I do tire of seeing heads having holes blown in them, throats slit and gushing blood everywhere. I’ve seen enough films now to know what it looks like and it does start to tire me.

I don’t know if Martin McDonagh was being too clever and referential for me and I was missing the whole point he was trying to make with the film but I still felt something was missing.

The middle, desert section, whilst funny and raising points did seem at odds with opening premises set. If it was meant set the viewer up for the finale perhaps it was the damp-squibbishness of the film’s ending that made it seeming draggy and overlong. As I said though perhaps that was the point to defy Hollywood screenplay conventions, I don’t know. I just get the feeling that these sections of the film were written after a large ‘real’ writers block.

Whilst the Vietnamese psychopath section was interesting and thought-provoking I’m not sure what it was doing in the film. It seemed to be tacked on as a great idea but in the wrong film. It was jarring.

Having said all of this I did enjoy the film and winced and laughed at the right moments. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this film to everyone and I can see how some people would find it boring or nonsensical and I certainly wouldn’t rush to watch it again or by the Blu-Ray to keep in a cherished collection.

I wonder if Michael McDonagh would in years to come remake this film with a few adjustments – after all no creative person is ever satisfied with their work and can always see room for improvement.

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