If Seven Psychopaths is one thing; it’s violent. If the film is two things; it’s violent and laugh-out-loud funny. Now, if it’s THREE things – you get the point – but I’ll say it’s self-aware, anyway. Seven Psychopaths is all the above and more, making for a quite intriguing, yet often peculiarly paced film with a bunch of highly amusing characters that apply the attentive glue.
Marty (Colin Farrell) is trying to write a screenplay, but all he has is his title – “Seven Psychopaths”. He wants to write screenplays with intriguing characters, heart, philosophy, social undertones, meta this, cathartic that. But the truth that Marty knows – and perhaps what writer/director Martin McDonagh found out the hard way after his success with 2008’s In Bruges – is that he won’t sell that movie. So instead, put a gun in everyone’s hand, bullets in their brains, and blow shit up all along the way. That’s how we make a movie, baby!
Marty’s best friend is Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), a psychopath himself who feels its his moral obligation to kill the bad guys – sound like another Bickle we know? That’s his night job however, because during the day, Billy is a dog-snatcher – a profession I truly hope doesn’t exist – with his good pal Hans (Christopher Walken). All is fine and dandy in Marty’s world. He is drawing inspiration from news clippings, Tom Waits, and stories he thought only to be folklore. But then the dog of a local mobster, Charlie (Woody Harrelson), is victim to one of these snatches and he sets out for vengeance that can only end in a final shootout.
Playing on the clichés of the modern action genre, Seven Psychopaths hits hilariously familiar notes and breathes fresh air into the cinema. Making no attempt to hide the fact that it is a movie, writer and director Martin McDonagh set out to fiddle with formula, poking fun at itself while satisfying the savage itch in the audience. He manages to simultaneously achieve gut-busting laughter, thanks especially to the hilarious cast. In my opinion, Farrell has been on his game of late, and Rockwell pleases as always. Harrelson amazes me in everything, comedy or drama, and did I mention Harry Dean Stanton? The prize goes to young Chris Walken, however, as he returns to the screen in a role that only he could have perfected. You’ll repeat his lines afterwards.
Bottom line, Seven Psychopaths may not be for everyone. It is paced oddly, but I think the action, gags, and dialogue should be enough to satisfy damn near everybody – and let me tell you, the very first scene, starring absolutely no one I’ve mentioned in the review, is almost worth the price of admission alone. Martin McDonagh pleases with this sophomore effort and I look forward to see what he delivers in the future. Harry Dean Stanton!
– Kyle Owen