Director and screenwriter Martin McDonagh borrows heavily from Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino for his second feature film, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is what a deft, introspective and hilarious film he gives us. No film in recent memory has a cast that is game to fill every scene, every line, with the intelligent energy that this one does.
Colin Farrell plays Marty, an alcoholic writer desperate to complete his first screenplay. His best friend, Billy Bickle (the Taxi Driver reference gives you a clue into his own psyche), is a loyal and crazy friend who runs his own dognapping operation with Hans (Christopher Walken). One day, they dognap the wrong dog. It turns out the Shih Tzu they stole belongs to gangster Charlie Costello (a hysterical Woody Harrelson), a man who loves his dog more than anything or anyone else. One day, Costello’s thugs break into Billy and Hans’ “hostage” warehouse and demand the dog. All of the sudden, the notorious Jack of Diamonds serial killer walks in, shoots the thugs dead and flees the scene. Marty, Billy, and Hans go on the run and hilarity ensues.
Seven Psychopaths gets it title from the number of crazies in the movie, each with their own backstory and motivation for why they are where they are in life. While you may think of the term psychopath as reserved for only true crazy people, the film makes a solid argument that we actually all are psychopaths in our own world, though we never try to see ourselves for the way we actually are. It is used as a device for viewing life’s problems through a unique lens.
Sam Rockwell gives a tour de force performance, that come Oscar time, if he doesn’t receive a nomination, there is no justice in this world. He has always been an outstanding and underappreciated actor, constantly bubbling just under the A-list tier for some reason.
After his summer’s flop, Total Recall, Colin Farrell gives a frenzied and entertaining performance of a neurotic alcoholic. He gets back to the great work he produced in Crazy Heart, In Bruges, and the unfortunately neglected Fright Night.
Christopher Walken brings his trademark quirky and dry delivery and capitalizes on it to our amusement. Woody Harrelson is simply never bad. He continues his career resurgence of the past couple years here and makes Charlie Costello a bad guy you want to grab a beer with.
The best aspect of the film is how full of phenomenal storytelling it is. There is never a dull moment and when you think you have everything figured out, it takes another path. There are a lot of stories within stories here and it might get confusing for some, but I’m not going to hold that against it. The dialogue and surprisingly poignant introspection are disarming for a film of this nature. The individual stories for each character and what they have experienced in their lives is a thrill to watch. Note that this is an incredibly bloody film, so it is not for the faint of heart.
Martin McDonagh burst onto the scene four years ago when he delivered In Bruges, also with Colin Farrell, who won a Golden Globe for his performance. In Bruges is a good, solid film, but the leaps and bounds McDonagh has grown in terms of his filmmaking in only his second film is staggering. He is truly one to watch and get excited about. Ever since Quentin Tarantino gave us Pulp Fiction eighteen years ago, loads of copycats have emerged and tried to emulate the tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic and self-aware storytelling he excels at. Out of all the ones to emerge, heavily influenced by Tarantino, Martin McDonagh is the most deserving successor. Seven Psychopaths may seem like a crazy film, but the relatable themes and revelations will cause you to analyze yourself. And that may drive you crazy if you aren’t able to admit what a psychopath you may be.
Seven Psychopaths is now playing at Goodrich Savoy 16 Theater and Carmike Beverly Cinema 18.