Seven Psychopaths (15)
Such is the clout of Martin McDonough that after just one previous feature and a short he can command a superb ensemble cast which boasts Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken.
Any one of them is cool. Any two of them make audiences twitch in anticipation. But four? Plus Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko and a neat cameo from the icon that is Harry Dean Stanton make Seven Psychopaths an unmissable prospect.
It’s not quite as funny as it reckons it is – think Quentin Tarantino when he got cocky – but writer/director McDonough knows how to ‘big up’ a concept even if the delivery goes awry before the inevitable final showdown.
Colin Farrell is Marty, the scribe struggling with writer’s block who has a vague notion to pen a screenplay about a septet of killers. Eager to help is his pal Billy (Sam Rockwell).
Cue a dizzying succession of real incidents and thoughts given cinematic life as Marty’s world comes crashing down. Surrounded by maniacs (he knows nothing) and friends with secrets, Marty gets all the inspiration he needs to finish his project.
This is a crazed comedy thriller that flows with McDonough’s trademarks: ordinary man thrust into unbelievable scenario, struggling to comprehend his lot whilst wacko companions gleefully edge ever closer to the abyss.
McDonough is a master of surreal dialogue and situations, and it leaps off screen and Farrell’s page. Dognapping, script-writing, multiple killers, fact versus fiction – all of them play a part and one has to wonder just how much is a conflation of several ideas McDonough may (or may not) have been working on.
It may be a collection of random jottings – it clings together; sometimes only just – but Seven Psychopaths (the title of Marty’s script) deftly merges fantasy with an increasingly twisted real world to emerge as an instant cult flick.
It is not a classic – McDonough’s previous In Bruges comes closer to that bracket – but it is smart and sassy and laugh-out-loud funny. McDonough is a force to be watched. Who knows what will come next?