Length: 110 minutes
Release date: Oct. 12, 2012
Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Stars: 4 out of 5
The title alone is enough to gather interest in the film “Seven Psychopaths.” A second work by the writer and director of “In Bruges,” “Seven Psychopaths” will be the darkest, craziest, and funniest movie you will see in 2012, although it will also be the strangest. Writer/director Martin McDonagh makes sure that audiences leave a screening of this film thoroughly entertained and slightly off center.
The violence and dark humor that McDonagh introduced in “In Bruges” is alive and well in “Seven Psychopaths.” The movie follows pals Marty (Colin Farrell) and Billy (Sam Rockwell) as they stumble into a deadly encounter with a notorious gangster. Well, maybe they did more than stumble. Marty is a screenwriter working on a new, overdue work (here’s the metafictional part) titled “Seven Psychopaths.” Marty has a severe case of writer’s block fueled by binge drinking and hanging with Billy. On the contrary, Billy has ideas for Marty’s masterpiece, but is not a writer. So he has to content himself in his own “entrepreneurial” endeavor-stealing dogs and then returning them for the reward money. Billy’s partner in crime is the legendary Christopher Walken as Hans.
It is not enough to take Farrell’s acting chops with Rockwell’s strange affability and mix them with the deadpan, dark humor of Walken. McDonagh goes farther by lining up a long list of heavyweight actors to populate his film, most of whom are violent. Billy and Hans are the audience’s introduction to these characters. Gabby Sidibe has a very small but adorable part that is the exception to the violence in the rest of the film. Woody Harrelson plays a gangster with a violent imagination, hot temper, and heart of gold for his little shih tzu. Of course, Billy and Hans steal it, which sends the three friends on the adventure of their twisted lives.
Intermingled in the movie are parts of the “Seven Psychopaths” screenplay that Marty is writing. His writer’s block is released while the group is on the run in the desert. A Vietnamese priest has been looking for revenge for over 40 years. Harry Dean Stanton plays a Quaker looking to avenge the death of his daughter. A masked man is hovering in the background, leaving playing cards in the wake of his murders. Although the plot seems complex, it comes together nicely as the audience follows the friends in their efforts to evade the gangster.
The violence is laced throughout the movie, but it often works to force the boundaries of the dark humor in the movie. Some of the more comedic scenes are truly funny. However, the laughter emitted from the scene comes with guilt as the scene seems to carry the humor to the limit of what’s funny and what’s just plain sick. McDonagh is known for his great dialogue, which only works to heighten the humor. The showstopper with some of the most quotable lines in the film is Walken as Hans. His classic, deadpan, and effortless delivery is perfect for the witty and dark lines McDonagh created. One of Walken’s best lines is toward the end of the movie when he looks at Marty and says, “You’re the one who thought psychopaths were so interesting. They get tiresome after a while, don’t you think?”
Comparisons will be made between “Seven Psychopaths” and several dark classics of the modern era. “Pulp Fiction,” “Hot Fuzz,” and even McDonagh’s own “In Bruges” are movie names tossed around to describe “Seven Psychopaths.” However, these comparisons are all wrong. In this movie, McDonagh pushes the envelope for comedy and action farther than in “In Bruges.” His dialogue is too introspective yet more snappy and snarky than in “Pulp Fiction.” The characters themselves have more depth and more of an edge than anyone could muster in “Hot Fuzz.” “Seven Psychopaths” is a groundbreaking film that is unapologetic about everything.
Audiences can expect a thrill ride that doesn’t leave time for speculation or analysis. Just when people think there’s time to ponder the meta-fictional story angles or to marvel at a line, McDonagh throws a curveball to take their mind in an altogether different direction, which is pure entertainment for the dark humorist’s soul. “Seven Psychopaths” is a movie that people will quote, spoof, and try to recreate for many years to come-unless McDonagh decides to make a sequel.