It Has Nothing To Do With The Hall-u-cen-o-gens: Seven Psychopaths (2012)

The hyper-masculine world of the works of Martin McDonagh have been criticized for their terribly misguided use of gender as a means to appropriate hipness and violence, and while this criticism certainly holds a degree of validity, I would contest that artistically speaking, McDonagh's male-oriented films exist partially as a undermining of masculine dominance, as well as a reappropriation of gender divides, ones that cause the male figures to immediately accept the illogical nature of their existing within a wholly single gendered dichotomy, after all, McDonagh is coming out of a post-war Ireland that still seems uncertain on its own future, certainly as it relates to a male ideology.  Furthermore, the detractors of McDonagh's work seem quick to attack the unconventional playwright and filmmaker, without giving equal consideration to the work of Tarantino or Mamet who engage in similar practices with, often less guided motives.  It is rather clear that MacDonagh uses his hyper violence, hyper-masculinity and penchant for political incorrectness, as a means to create a conversation through the absurdity, essentially not much different than the way in which Stephen Colbert uses a falsely absurdist variation of conservatism to undermine the illogical nature of the outdated mode of thinking.  Sure it will be difficult for Seven Psychopaths to obtain the sort of cult following that MacDonagh's earlier work In Bruges received, but this is near entirely a result of the film being championed from the get go by fans of the playwright turned directors earlier work, not to mention the casting of a decidedly cult oriented cast with Waits, Walken and to some degree Harrelson.  What can be said in relation to the directors earlier work is that it takes a decidedly poetic turn in the closing moments of the film, something that In Bruges certainly does, however, in the metacinematic nature of this most recent film by McDonagh, the viewer is provided with very clear foreshadowing to such events, although no amount of preparation truly informs how badass a McDonagh shootout will prove to be, certainly not the multiple and multifaceted ones within Seven Psychopaths.

Seven Psychopaths, like a class McDonagh offering, begins in the hyper-violent and only excels from there with the introduction of a masked killer known as the One'Eyed Jack killer, who is apparently one of seven psychopaths who are to comprise the plot, the title of which is to be the inspiration for the films main protagonist the writer aptly named Marty (Colin Farrell) who is struggling formulating his script aside from knowing that it includes a vengeful Amish man and a suicidal ex-Vietcong.  In fact, his relatively absurd plot seems mundane compared to the unusual job of his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) and his partner Hans (Christopher Walken) who specialize in dog kidnapping to obtain larger reward money.  Unfortunately, Hans and Billy make the mistake of kidnapping a dog named Bonnie who happens to belong to a high end mob boss named Charlie (Woody Harrelson) a man whose devotion to his puppy is so great that he undertakes a veritable killing spree to assure its safety.  All the while, Marty attempts to properly formulate his script, taking inspiration from the events surrounding the dog, as well as the newspaper articles about the One'Eyed Jack killer, not to mention meeting other psychopaths along the way, particularly the enigmatic Zachariah who, along with his former lover, took it upon themselves to be serial killers of serial killers.  Needless to say, no matter how well Billy, Hans, and eventually Marty, cover their tracks Charlie chases them down, although at this point it is a meeting well-embraced by the crew, especially Billy who believes the shootout to be the perfect ending to Marty's script one with a ton of gore and the quick destruction of Charlie.  Yet when the actual shootout occurs it pans out considerably differently, with a varying set of deaths and a damn perfect use of music.  Luckily for Marty, a message left on a voice recorder helps Marty to find a perfect idea for his films closing moments, although an intercut after the credits begin remind Marty of some of his failed obligations, which may or may not have some deathly results.

What then is the moral/social commentary/philosophical pondering of McDonagh's most recent offering.  It is certainly not a poignant reflection on the state of violence within a global community, because many of the characters fail to be reprimanded for their agressive choices, just as it is certainly in no way an evocation of gender equality, as the female characters within the film serve as narrative boosts for some of the more reserved characters, but with that in mind it also does not create a clear divide between those who are inherently good and those who have a chance to be good, but succumb to the bribery and falsity of wrongdoing, which seems so integral to In Bruges.  Instead, within Seven Psychopaths, McDonagh appears to draw a line between those who are the necessary observers and recorders of change and revolution and those to are direct harbingers in its occurrence.  As the narrative reveals, Billy is actually the One'Eyed Jack killer and sees violence as an absolutely legitimate way to deal with the wrong in the world.  Destruction, to Billy, is the only way to assure the cessation of evil.  As for Marty, he seems far more inspired by considering how this corruption or insanity evolves and emerges, often becoming so lost in its possibilities and misguiding that he clings to alcohol as a means of coping.  In the middle ground are the characters like Hans who seems to traipse perfectly between Billy and Marty's methodologies, thus creating a sort of aggressive passiveness (which I have decided is distinctly different from somebody being passive aggressive)  that can drive a guilty person to take their life out of fear and frustration, not to mention Zachariah who clearly cannot come to deals with his passivity in the face of his aggressive lovers violence, although his choice not to be aggressive when his lover was actively killing a man takes on an aggressive connotation, because he clearly has come to disapprove of those actions.  Thus the closing scene involving a self-imolationg Buddhist monk takes  on another level, in so much, as he is engaging actively in an act that is intended to be passive resistance against the war, even if completely self-destructive.  All of this, of course, results in some unusual religious and social commentaries, but I think it only proves the intense and introspective elements of this film without question.

Key Scene:  Waken, voice recorder, fire and considering of sexual-orientation terms...what more could one ask for in a film.

An action heavy film with quite a glorious soundtrack, Seven Psychopaths is a bluray purchases through and through.

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