Seven Psychopaths

Grade: C+ Running time: 1 hour 49 min Release Date: Nov. 2, 2012 Rated: R
Grade: C+
Running time: 1 hour 49 min
Release Date: Nov. 2, 2012
Rated: R

The trouble with psychopaths is that they’re often charming characters to be around. But as one of the movie’s titular psychopaths puts it, “they get pretty boring after awhile.” “Seven Psychopaths” hosts a plethora of such psychopaths who have a knack for storytelling, but aren’t so good at keeping them together.

Colin Farrell stars as Marty, the sane (comparatively speaking) alcoholic script writer who’s trying in vain to find inspiration to write. His writing’s going nowhere until he decides to involve his enigmatic friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) in the writing process. Before he knows it, he gets wrapped up in Billy’s underground life as a professional dognapper with his accomplice (Christopher Walken) and has every psycho in the city beating down his door, when the dog-napping duo make the mistake of stealing a dog from the city’s unhinged mob boss (Woody Harrelson).

The movie starts slow but picks up steam once the bullets start flying and the crazy gets let out of the bag. But what starts as an interesting setup grinds to a screeching halt by the film’s second half. That’s when you find out that “Seven Psychopaths” isn’t really about these characters, dognapping, gangsters or even psychopaths. It’s really trying to make a statement about storytelling. Without spoiling too much, the movie goes off the rails to a surreal place. Marty’s script becomes a deconstruction of not only the movie, but action movies in general—ridiculous stories built upon shells of characters with little justification to their actions. These characters somehow interact to tie together the barest threads of a story—in other words, psychopaths.

This movie succeeds at satirizing our culture’s unhealthy fascination with mindless action and psychopaths. It’s done it in a way that is both thought provoking and hilarious. The problem is that in trying to tell a story about storytelling, the movie neglects its own story. While attempting to conceal the shallowness of action movies today, the movie becomes as meaningless as the tropes it’s trying to mock. The dialogue is poor and characters fade in and out of the story with no real resolution.

The performances are solid and Rockwell steals the show with his over-the-top portrayal of a best friend on the edge. Colin Farrell is the weakest link here. As the straight man in a world of psychopaths, he just isn’t given very much to work with. But the movie produces some of its best moments when the duo is playing off one another.

“Seven Psychopaths” feels like a story that’s being told to you by actual psychopaths. It’s funny, it’s interesting, and may even inadvertently teach you something about yourself. But it’s an inconsistent mess that wears out its listener’s patience pretty quick.