This should have been a live one. Martin McDonagh’s follow up to In Bruges, full of names that you can salivate over – Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelsen – Harry Dean Stanton for god’s sake. Alas no. Seven Psychopaths is a mess. And not a hot one. It’s a film that puts its foot down so hard on the crazy pedal that it runs out of gas before it’s even left the garage.
It irritated me from the very beginning – two sub-Tarantino hit men chit chatting (Quentin has a lot to answer for) then, oh joy, here’s Colin Farrell doing the ‘I’m a bit baffled’ look he does in every film he’s in (see my review of Total Recall… sorry Colin. It’s not personal, really). This time he plays Marty, who is a bit baffled about screenwriting, likes a drink and has a one-dimensional girlfriend (Abby Cornish) who is so wasted as a character Marty probably wrote her himself.
It’s not long before we’re plunged headlong into a rambling tale of various psychopaths that doesn’t make much sense, has a few laughs and a lot of quite unpleasant violence. It all comes over a bit Adaptation gone baaaad. And not bad in a good way.
I’m sure they all had a ball making it, but it’s hard to find anything to like here – some amazing actors wading aimlessly through a plot that could have been written by the two dim mobsters at the beginning. I’m sure plenty of people at this screening would disagree, and have it down as an oh so hilarious take on the movie business. But frankly, if I’d been on the end of a row I’d have gone home and caught Coronation Street instead. Or the flu. Catching the flu would be an improvement. Cute dog though.
Those of you familiar with my reviews will see that I’m not generally a sci-fi or action movie aficionado. They are two genres I usually avoid in the same way I avoid anything involving Katie Price. But one glorious night in the West End brought all these things together in a night that I can only describe as Thursday.
I remember seeing Verhoeven’s original many years ago and quite enjoying it – it’s a classic of its kind with a sense of fun and a reasonably comprehensible plot. Someone somewhere thought it would be a good one to line up for a remake and who better to tackle this pointless task than action supremo Len Wiseman. If you can’t improve on the original, at least you can make it more blingy. Wiseman clearly started by blowing the budget on CGI and leaving 20p and a sticky toffee in the pot for a script. And little more for wardrobe – it disturbed both me and my cinema companion to see Kate Beckinsale blatantly wear the same pants two days on the run. She didn’t even turn them inside out, folks, that’s the sort of girl she is. The fact that we both noticed this also suggests that there wasn’t much else happening on screen to distract us.
So what happens in the new Total Recall? I can sum that up quite simply: fighty fighty fight fight, go on a fast thing, fighty, more fighty and a bit of extra fighty just in case we missed the last bit. I think there’s a vague plot in there somewhere involving a preposterously bouffanted Bryan Cranston (baddie) and a bored looking Bill Nighy (goodie) tussling over Colin Farrell’s brain wherein lies a dark secret. Poor Colin is confused – he wears an earnest expression of bemusement throughout the film which suggests he has no more idea about what is going on than we do but is going along with it just to be polite. Like when your mate takes you to see her child performing in the school play. The girls – bad Kate ‘dirty pants’ Beckinsdale and good Jessica ‘presumably clean pants’ Biel – wear sensible shoes and do lots of running about with guns. Beckinsale seems to be channeling the scalded pout of Victoria Beckham. Honestly, the amount of moody shots of her pouting and flicking her hair you’d think she was married to the director or something. Oh.
In between the fighting there are some very brief and cringily written bits of dialogue and at one point Colin does a bit of Richard Clayderman on the old joanna which reduced my entire row to giggles. Nothing is ever explained, there’s just fighting then a bit more fighting then some fighting until finally we reach the dreadfully schmaltzy ending. I would lay money on the fact that nobody in the screening had a feck of a clue what had been going on, not even Katie Price (who was sat in front of us). There are so many action scenes that the wham bam special effects don’t even seem that special by the end, it’s a bit like having the same scene replayed over and over again on a different fast-moving thing that will explode in a minute while Colin looks baffled but well-meaning and Kate emerges pouting from behind a cycle-helmeted robot man.
Anyway, I had a nice glass of wine afterwards so all was not lost. Am sure if you are a fan of the action/sci-fi thing then you probably won’t hate this quite as much as I did. Just don’t expect it to make any sense.
PS for anyone wondering, yes, there is a triple-boobed lady.