Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Dead Man Walken

Published Thursday, 06 December 2012
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You would have to be mad to steal a mobster's favourite pooch. So who better to get their paws dirty than one of Hollywood's oddest actors, who returns in the black comedy Seven Psychopaths.

This Oscar winning eccentric has starred in over one hundred movies and whether he is playing a deer hunter or a dog-napper, has there ever been a better scene stealer than Christopher Walken?

Written and directed by the award winning Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths follows a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap a gangster's (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu. The three amigos soon find themselves knee deep in, well, Shih Tzu. And all hell breaks loose in this bloody and funny caper.

If you have seen McDonagh's last film, the darkly delicious, In Bruges, then you will know you are in for a bizarre twist of crime. Colin Farrell once again takes the lead role as the relatively normal one in a menagerie of menacing characters. Farrell is an Irish writer called Martin (surely the director?) who has a great title for a screenplay, Seven Psychopaths, but little else.

Luckily, inspiration is to be easily found in all the psychopaths he runs into. No more so than Billy Bickle (son of Travis in Taxi Driver?), played with great gusto by Sam Rockwell. When Martin is unable to overcome his writer's block, Billy places the blame firmly on the bottle, declaring "The Spanish have got bullfighting, the French have got cheese and the Irish have got alcoholism".

The motley crue of Farrell, Rockwell and Walken bat back and forth with McDonagh's razor sharp dialogue. "I'm sick of all the Hollywood psychopath movies" Farrell tells the others, "all those guys with guns in their hands". So while hiding out in the desert, they each write their own version of Seven Psychopaths. This means mini-movies within this movie, as we enter the crazed imaginations of our characters.

Along the way, we meet Psychopath No 2, the killer Quaker played by Harry Dean Stanton and Psychopath No 6, Zachariah played by Tom Waits with a white rabbit. These are some of the strangest sinners we have ever seen. But when it comes to being the wizard of odd, one actor takes the fruitcake, the brilliantly unhinged Christopher Walken.

Despite all the impersonations nobody does Walken like Walken. His trademark blank stare and distinctive wonky voice makes him captive viewing. "I ain't going to fight and I ain't going to run" he says "I guess I'm going to die". Every dead pan line Walken delivers makes you laugh and cry at the same time. A rare feat for any actor. His character Hans looks resplendent in his sky blue jacket and canary cravat. The necktie is not for show but hides a hideous scar of a self-inflicted wound. Hans is an unusually deep thinker in this cut-throat world.

Now 69, Christopher Walken is still crazy after all these years. He is the ultimate irregular guy who's been a headless horseman, a soldier of fortune and a Bond villain. And although Seven Psychopaths may be too clever for its own good, watching Walken in far-out full flow is a must- watch.

Seven Psychopaths (Cert 15) is now on general release

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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