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Seven Psychopaths (15)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Pitt, Michael Stuhlbarg.

Director: Martin McDonagh.

Running time: 110 mins

A Hollywood screenwriter with crippling creative block finds inspiration in the most unlikely places in Martin McDonagh’s twisted black comedy that builds on the promise of In Bruges.

Like that impressive 2008 debut, Seven Psychopaths balances giggles, gore and giddiness, spattering the screen with lashings of crimson blood.

London-born writer-director McDonagh isn’t afraid to sacrifice some of his most likeable and sympathetic creations, and he pokes glorious fun at the film industry.

Booze-swilling Irish scribe Marty (Colin Farrell) has reached an impasse with a script called Seven Psychopaths, much to the chagrin of his long-suffering girlfriend Kaya (Abbie Cornish).

Marty explains all to best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), a jobbing actor who is involved in a dog-napping scam with elderly associate Hans (Christopher Walken).

Billy places a newspaper advert asking bona fide psychopaths to share their life stories with Marty, and mad man Zachariah (Tom Waits) answers.

In return for sharing his grisly past, Zachariah asks Marty to include a message to his accomplice during the film’s credits, jesting that he will kill the screenwriter if the declaration is cut.

Meanwhile, Billy and Hans kidnap a shih tzu called Bonny, unaware the pooch is the pride and joy of sadistic gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson).

When Charlie discovers that the four-legged object of his affections has been abducted from dog walker Sharice (Gabourey Sidibe), retribution is swift and brutal.

Seven Psychopaths falls agonisingly short of In Bruges but is nevertheless an entertaining ensemble piece, which aims a shotgun squarely between the eyes of political correctness.

Farrell is somewhat bland but Walken, Rockwell and Harrelson savour their colourful supporting characters, whose fates become inextricably entwined in the desert.

McDonagh’s typically delicious cocktail of macabre humour and sickening violence would go down a treat with hard-drinking Marty.

Rating: 3/5