After two or three viewings of Seven Psychopaths, it probably becomes more enjoyable; mainly because one will be able to fixate on certain characters that entertain them (a.k.a. block out all the worthlessness and numb yourself to the jagged delivery). But upon first glance, the 109 minutes takes way too long to warm up.
The piecing together of this could remind viewers of the annual opening montage at the MTV Movie Awards. You know, where a bunch of comedic actors spoof the year’s best and worse cinematic products? And that is usually the best part of the fandom award show. But this tactic, so to speak, is definitely a killer for this flick.
Too bad Quentin Tarantino couldn’t helm this sucker. But I digress…
So as the title suggests, the audience will be introduced to seven homicidal maniacs. Just about all of them has some sort of unique trait and subtle charisma about them. Truth is, only three of them are armed with entertaining ammunition. Christopher Walken puts on a clinic in terms of timing and voice inflection in his dialogue. It’s something many admirers have grown accustomed to with the talented “side-show” act in his respective twilight years. But as mentioned, he doesn’t get featured until after the halfway point and there’s a chance the tedious pain that has infected one in the first-half will be too tough to remedy.
With Walken armed with dead-pan candor, and precisely hitting the proverbial target in the third act, Sam Rockwell is a character that the script relies on to set the Snatch-like tone early on. Rockwell is giving a spirited performance as the mooching pal of script writer, Colin Farrell. Yet again, all his efforts and set-up do not really start to click until well into the third act. Initially he’s basically spraying and praying, but eventually his style starts to pay off with a few laughs in the latter stages of this purposely articulated random telling of a light tragedy.
Criminally under-used is another loose cannon in mob boss, Woody Harrelson. If there is any central storyline, Harrelson enacts it as a laid-back cold-hearted killer who just wants to track down his lost dog. Naturally, this plot point becomes the reason for all the labeled “psychopaths” intersecting in a Quentin Tarantino-esque scripted showdown (though not nearly as clever).
Just about every scene is positioned as one of those, “They won’t go there, but actually do,” in order to get a rise out of the viewer. At times, it works just fine. Yet there are a ton of misfires even though the cast is seemingly on-point within their actions. Without getting all technical, the issue is essentially that the “joke” (screenplay) just isn’t as humorous as everyone involved surmised.
Overall, Seven Psychopaths is a fragmented, though well-acted, version of 2006’s Smokin’ Aces. For those not familiar with the above comparison, it’s simply a multi-layered story that tries to flush out too much, when it should have been just a bloody riot. That said, there is plenty of blood. It appears to have some meta/spoof motivations, but it can never properly mesh that storytelling angle with the others it is trying to execute.
Seven Psychopaths is rated R and opens in the Tampa Bay market on Friday.