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How do you follow up a Bafta best original screenplay winner, especially when it was Martin McDonagh’s caustically funny thriller In Bruges?

By taking it up a level and decamping from a small European town to Hollywood, that’s how.

Martin takes the small cast/constrained setting of his Oscar-nominated predecessor, in which two hitmen hide out in the beautiful town waiting for a job gone wrong to blow over, and expands, with more characters and the wacky world of the movies as their backdrop.

Farrell is Marty, a boozy screenwriter struggling to write his script Seven Psychopaths.

His slightly untethered pal Billy (Rockwell) then kidnaps the dog of a gangster (Harrelson), plunging them into a crazy, convoluted world of the title’s mad men, movie cliches and overcoming writer’s block.

It’s a part post-modern, part meta-textual crime-dramedy-action-satire, if you follow, as McDonagh toys with what’s real, what’s fictional and what is lodged somewhere in the blurred boundary between these two.

While endlessly playful, it’s unfocused – the film flits between the seven psychos’ stories and its own arching narrative.

McDonagh teases Hollywood’s foibles, but with only varying success – the final shoot ‘em up action showdown is torn up a treat, but poorly written female roles are acknowledged yet hardly addressed.

His boy’s own story does have some brilliant performances – Harrelson’s as a Shih Tzu-loving gangster and Christopher Walken as a threatening yet moralistic nutjob – and is haphazardly and gleefully unpredictable. Flawed but fun.

Good for: Seeing the rule book torn up and thrown out the window

Starring:
Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson | 15 | 109mins


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