Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to 2008’s sleeper In Bruges is a film of Tarantino-esque dialog, scenes and characters. However, with more flare for the absolute randomness than its obvious pulpy influences. Seven Psychopaths tells the darkly humorous tale of violent psychopaths, method screenwriting, and a dog-napped shih tzu… it all makes sense in the context of the film. McDonangh spins a wickedly twisting entertaining yarn with all those elements in play.
Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits headline a large ensamble crew of colorful characters, bullet-fodder and, yes, of course psychopaths. After Woody Harrelson’s character, Charlie, loses his prized and cherished Shih-tzu he vows to stop at nothing to get him back. That vow as it turns out is against Sam Rockwell and Colin Farrell, as it is Sam Rockwell’s Billy who nabs the mutt for reasons that become clearer as the film progresses.
What follows is part road-trip, shoot-em up and out-for-revenge movie. All the while Colin Farrell’s Marty busies himself with writing the screenplay for… yes you guessed it, Seven Psychopaths. It’s just that sort of plot point that a Tarantino or the Coen Brothers would fall onto. Marty is a reluctant participate in his friend’s dealings, pushed into the fray by just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. One could argue he also has the wrong friends too.
As the body count rises to ridiculous amounts, Marty, Billy and Walken’s Hans must hide from Charlie and his thugs until things cool down. This leds to the film’s major strength, that in the interactions between this cast. The chemistry is impecable between them and fused with schizophrenic energy. In one strand-out scene, Rockwell narrates a lengthy and elaborate stream-of-conscience cliched grave-yard shoot-em up “last stand” scene involving all the parties in the scheme and some that aren’t, in an effort to help with his friend’s screenplay. The “last stand” scene involves everything but the kitchen sink, although I’m sure that was in there as well.
Christopher Walken is also another stand-out, delivering his finest performance in years as the mysterious and troubled Hans. It is his manic energy and off-beat line-reading that energizes the pacing when needed to. No movie where he plays a role would be complete without one of his famous show-stopping monologues, and this has a great one towards the end. Though he has become more infamous for characterture especially on SNL appearances rather than a great character actor in the last decade he shows in this that he can still deliver when given the proper material, and this script fits him like a glove.
Much more scatter-shot than his previous effort with Farrell McDonagh relies on much more on shock value and the strangeness of the story and characters to keep the film moving along. Leading to some odd character motivations and actions along the way, only explained by way of that they are all crazy thus anything goes. Nonetheless, this is an entertaining, darkly humorous and thrilling romp through the mind of one of the more unique cinematic storytellers in recent years. Could’ve used more cowbell though… had to get that one in.
7.5/10 (Bizarre, Violent, Funny, Nuts and… Bizarre, just like its titular characters )