It’s violent with plenty of colourful language. This alone, I know, would be enough to dissuade some people that I know. Why I like this movie though is that it uses these devices to communicate some very interesting ideas. Let’s start with the synopsis:
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu. [source IMDB.com]
What this leaves out though is that the screenwriter doesn’t like how Hollywood continues to sell violence. He is a man of peace and wants to write a movie that sells the audience one way throughout the first half only to give them something completely different at the end. Colin Farrell does this character quite well, and sells the idea of his movie equally well. I like the idea of a movie that uses a specific device to speak against the efficacy of that device. There are so many moments throughout this movie that work so well in that light.
The cast of characters that round out the rest of the movie take supporting characters to a whole new level. First you have Sam Rockwell who pretty much makes the movie. His character is so full of himself and yet still so very insecure, you just love to hate to love him. He almost steals every scene that he is in. The exception to this is a handful of scenes with him and Christopher Walken. Walken’s character is such a delight to behold. I don’t know of another character really like him in any movie I have seen. And Walken just naturally exudes everything that he needs to and not an ounce more. His sincerity is genuine.
On the flip side you have Woody Harrelson who is so hit and miss for me as an actor. Didn’t like him much in The Hunger Games, but LOVED him in Defendor. In this movie he, like Walken, is pitch perfect in that he has the tone just right for his character, not overboard or lacklust – just perfect. And he is fun to watch in this movie. I was delighted to see Tom Waits back on the screen, and the character they chose for him again, fit him to a “T”. As I write this, I think that McDonagh (the director) had some genius casting moments. Tom Waits, like Harrelson and Walken, has this character down perfectly and, right at the end, does what you hope he will do but are never sure he will. Delicious!
As for the story and script itself, this movie moves along a brisk pace but doesn’t lose its breath at all. The dialogue is chalk-full of great moments, some enlightened one-liners and great back-and-forths between characters:
Hans: As Gandhi said…’An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’. I believe that whole heartedly.
Bill: No it doesn’t. There’ll be one guy left with one eye. How’s the last blind guy going to take out the eye of the last guy left whose still got one eye left? All that guy has to do is run away and hide behind a bush. Ghandi was wrong. It’s just that nobody’s got the balls to come out and say it.
I mean, with these actors, this director, this script, well, you just can’t go wrong. Unless you happen to not like McDonagh’s style of movie. In which case, avoid this at all costs.
Charlie: Put your hands up!
Charlie: But I’ve got a gun!
Hans: I don’t care.
Charlie: That doesn’t make any sense!
Hans: Too bad!