The script is episodic by nature as it blurs fantasy and reality, with some vignettes more amusing or compelling than others.
-Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue
Engagingly off-centre, like Charlie Kaufman taking down Quentin Tarantino, this sunbaked shaggy-dog story is a place-holder film for McDonagh, and often closer to chaos than it is to genius.
-Matt Glasby, Total Film
I give Seven Psychopaths a lot of credit for being a truly original film in a time where sequels, prequels and reboots have completely taken over. Not really following any sort of typical narrative structure, this dark comedy by playwright/filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) bounces us around a series of beautiful “SoCal” locations not typically seen on film. Constantly flying in and out of fantasy and reality, the narrative is at times difficult to keep up with and doesn’t exactly mesh into a satisfying whole by the films final set piece.
As far as plot goes, Colin Farrell plays Martin, a struggling screenwriter who hangs around with his best friend and dog kidnapper, Billy (Sam Rockwell). When Billy and partner Hans (Christopher Walken) unknowingly kidnap the beloved dog of a gangster (Woody Harrelson), Martin becomes mixed up in a scheme that just may be the inspiration to his screenplay he has been waiting for.
Although not exactly laugh out loud funny, Seven Psychopaths has some of the wittiest and most intelligent dialogue I’ve heard in a film in quite some time. It is a great time just listening to Walken and Rockwell talk circles around each other as an exasperated Farrell listens on. Speaking of Walken, he plays such a lunatic in this movie it’s almost as if he’s doing his own take on a Christopher Walken impression. I find myself liking Farrell’s work a lot more lately, and this may be my favorite performance of his so far, equal parts alcoholic beachbum and straight man to the rest of the cast. And of course Woody is great as always, playing the ultra violent but equally patheic gangster, Charlie.
As fantastic as the cast is, the real gem of this film is Sam Rockwell’s Billy. Rockwell brings a real heart to what could have been a completely one dimensional character and it really adds depth to the movie, in more ways than one. Billy gives a monologue towards the climax of the film that is a real showcase for how great of an actor Rockwell can be. Here’s a peek at the type of dialogue you can expect from Billy:
Hans: As Gandhi said…’An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’. I believe that whole heartedly.
Billy: 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.
This movie starts out fantastic and has some real momentum for about the first 2/3’s of the film. The final act, however, takes place almost entirely in a desert and parts of it slow down significantly. The flow of some of the plot elements essentially come to a standstill and the film loses itself narratively a bit, with an almost anti-climactic ending and final few scenes.
Seven Psychopaths is nothing if not unique and I can really appreciate the complete originality it brings to the table. Although it stumbles a bit towards the end, it is a very entertaining time at the movies and worth checking out.