Some assembly required for “Seven Psychopaths”

In the middle of the movie “Seven Psychopaths,” Martin (an alcoholic movie screenwriter played by Colin Farrell) tells his two friends a short, simple, violent story. “I liked it,” deadpans Hans (an aging dognapper played by Christopher Walken). “It’s got layers.”

The flat story that Martin told, of course, doesn’t even have one layer, but the movie he’s in does. It’s not just about an alcoholic writer who gets into gangster trouble with his nutty friends. It’s not just about violence, even though it has more than some Tarantino films. It isn’t the choppy, incoherent, inexplicable movie that it seems to be most of the way through.

It isn’t just about Billy (a neurotic ne’er do well played by Sam Rockwall) even though he’s clearly the star of the movie. It isn’t about Martin, even though his character is the axis of the stories and subplots whirling through this windstorm. It certainly isn’t about Hans, even though I’ll admit that I only convinced my movie buddy to buy tickets because I admire Walken so much. Nobody menaces like Walken.

Woody Harrelson, as the bloody gangster whose dog was kidnapped, certainly menaces very effectively in this film, and Walken only has one tiny menacing scene. But nobody menaces like Walken.

If you get through all the pieces and blood smattering, you’ll see that it’s about peace and friendship, just as Martin says at the beginning, but it’s kind of a puzzle that has to be fit together once all the pieces are found. When it comes together, it’s a good movie. Even though it’s technically British, it’s got two American union bugs in the last frame: IATSE and Teamsters.

It’s got layers.

“Seven Psychopaths”

Directed by Martin McDonagh

2012, 110 minutes, R

Photo: Rotten Tomatoes