Seven Psychopaths review (Blu-ray)

This is a standard crime tale with a difference. In seeking to cheekily subvert the tired cliches, writer-director McDonagh cleverly envelops the silly narrative with a kind of sardonic commentary on the genre, standing back and wryly poking fun at its contrivances. This makes us all feel in on the joke if one is attuned to the correct cinematic sensibilities – but is it entertaining?

Not particularly. It's certainly a disappointment after McDonagh's first movie foray, In Bruges. That too had sharp dialogue slickly delivered by top class performers. His latest effort is equally well cast but it doesn't give his lead actors much to do outside their respective comfort zones.

Farrell is a convincing everyman, this time as a blocked, heavy-drinking Hollywood screenwriter. Events happen around him, he's the semi-sturdy base on which the story hinges, being the only normal character in this convoluted tale. Rockwell brings his customary manic energy to the role of his best buddy, an unsuccessful actor who tries to him inspire him for his next screenplay by placing an ad for psychopaths. Walken again adopts his haberdasher from mars look as a sly dognapper, kidnapping little mutts and then selling them back to their respective owners. All three end up being threatened by a reliably unhinged and forceful Harrelson, a crazed killer with an insane love for his pet shi tzu whom Rockwell has purloined.

While McDonagh's digs at the genre are knowing and delivered with confident aplomb. the story itself, weaving bloody scenes of violence with enacted movie scenes from the screenwriter's imagination, ultimately leaves one feeling that there's much ado about nothing here. It lacks appeal and ends up inconsequential, provoking a shrug of the shoulders, leaving one unimpressed with its potshots at the genre and bored with the action tropes it deploys. A movie for cineastes then, who will appreciate the extra layers McDonagh has woven on to his Tarantino-esque fable

EXTRAS ★★½ Five short featurettes: Martin McDonaugh's Seven Psychopaths (2:33), Woody Harrelson is Charlie (1:25), Colin Farrell is Marty (1:27), Crazy Locations (2:10), and layers (1:07); the short Seven Psychocats (1:34), which replaces the actors with, um, cats; 13 deleted scenes (14:47); a gag reel (1:55); and the theatrical trailer.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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