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'Seven Psychopaths' is so good, it's crazy

12:09 AM, Oct. 12, 2012
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Colin Farrell, from left, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken appear in a scene from the motion picture 'Seven Psychopaths.' (Gannett, Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films/File) / GANNETT
Woody Harrelson appears in a scene from the motion picture 'Seven Psychopaths.' (Gannett, Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films/File) / GANNETT

‘Seven Psychopaths’

Star ratings:★ ★ ★
Rated: R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.

Colin Farrell, from left, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell appear in a scene from the motion picture 'Seven Psychopaths.' (Gannett, Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films/File) / GANNETT

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If you’re going to go unhinged, go all the way.

Not everyone will agree, but that is one approach to making a successful movie, one that “Seven Psychopaths” takes to the hilt, and maybe a little beyond. Martin McDonagh’s film is maybe not as clever as his last effort, “In Bruges,” and fans of his stage work will probably decry all the meta movie details. Egad, he may be trying to make a popular hit. But a crass sell out? Hardly.

Instead, “Seven Psychopaths” is a dark, dark lark, bolstered by a crazy-and-proud-of-it performance by Sam Rockwell, which is balanced by a controlled one by Colin Farrell. Through in Christopher Walken somewhere in-between and you’ve got a delightfully nuts, compulsively watchable film. Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits as a psychopathic gangster and a serial killer of serial killers are just gravy.

It’s all brutal good fun, with laughs scattered throughout the bloodshed.

We know what we’re in for from the start, as two hired killers in Los Angeles wait for their target while discussing the niceties of shooting someone in the eye. (The numerous talky, violent nods to Tarantino are doubtless intentional.) A rude surprise awaits them: The arrival of a figure in a ski mask who shoots them in the head, leaving behind his calling card, the Jack of Diamonds.

Segue to Marty (Farrell), an alcoholic screenwriter who has the name of his next film, “Seven Psychopaths,” and not much else. A newspaper brief about the Jack of Diamonds, who evidently kills only bad guys, gives him at least the hint of an idea, which is more than he’s had. His best friend and would-be actor Billy (Sam Rockwell) is also eager to contribute. though Marty’s not excited about that prospect.

Billy earns a living through a dognapping ring he runs with Hans (Walken). Billy nabs the dogs, they wait for a reward to be offered and Hans returns them. It’s a nice little scam until they steal Bonny, a Shih Tzu belonging to Charlie Costello (Harrelson), a sadistic gangster with little regard for anything or anyone.

Except Bonny.

“Seven Psychopaths” may not be McDonagh’s best film, but with all its crazy bells and whistles, it’s an entertaining one.

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