Everyone’s got weird friends. They might drive you crazy, but you love ‘em to death. There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for them, even if they are a just a bit…psycho. Well for Hollywood big shot Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell), he’s got friends like that in spades. Seven Psychopaths is just about as crazy as the title suggests. This twisted action-comedy is the next successful collaboration between In Bruges director Martin McDonagh and actor Colin Farrell. Dark and morbid, the movie may not shy away when it comes to violence, but audiences who like their multiplex fare to have a serious bite will love Seven Psychopaths.
Marty’s got a problem. He’s overdue on a draft for his latest screenplay. As for progress? Not so good. Plus, the steady intake of beer and cocktails isn’t helping much either. But it’s going to be a great movie when it’s finished, and with a name like “Seven Psychopaths” there’s no one who doubts it. Fortunately for Marty, he doesn’t have to look any further for inspiration than his own best friend, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell). Billy makes ends meet as a conman with his own pal Hans (Christopher Walken). Together, they kidnap dogs, taking advantage of emotionally fragile pet-obsessed Angelinos to claim reward money. However, when the beloved dog of a local crime boss is nabbed, things get out of hand extremely quickly. Before he knows it, Marty’s got his hands full of mobsters, assassins, his “bitch” of a girlfriend, and honest-to-god psychopaths.
First thing anyone is going to notice about the film is the killer (no pun intended) cast that McDonagh has assembled. Rounding off the incredibly strong lead trio is Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, and an extremely grizzled Tom Waits. Not to mention the great group of cameos that shouldn’t be spoiled for anyone remotely interested in seeing the film. One of the greatest strengths of the film is the serious caliber of its ensemble. Never do any of actors feel out of place in this Looney Toons story of a plan gone wrong.
Colin Farrell is a blast to watch as a guy barely staying sober enough to deal with situation he finds himself in. For an actor usually playing the headstrong lead, it’s devilishly fun to watch him putz around from scene-to-scene, usually covered in someone else’s blood. Christopher Walken plays a wonderful straight-man, getting the most of being the voice of reason in a series of increasingly bizarre, sometimes tragic occurrences. Despite the continual chaos, Seven Psychopaths has a lot of heart and sincerity in it, and the burden of it falls almost entirely on Walken’s performance. But the scene-stealer is clearly Sam Rockwell as Billy Bickle. Rockwell embraces the role with his usual fervor and enthusiasm, and really brings his character to life. He’s dynamic, erratic, and completely hilarious. Out of the numerous hysterical scenes, one in particular where he passionately explains the perfect gunfight to end Marty’s story, is a standout.
Seven Psychopaths has more going for it than just its stellar cast. As to be expected, there’s a lot of action. It’s a ton of fun, in a grisly and visceral sort of way. There are ambushes and gunfights, all of which are well choreographed and comically brutal. The competent action scenes serve the overall tone of the movie well, and the actors feel just as at home pointing guns as they do going through the dialogue. The same attention to detail applies on the rest of the film as well. The cinematography is great, and Los Angeles and its surrounding locales feel appetizingly dreamy and picturesque. It really helps the viewer to feel like this absurd adventure does take place right in Marty’s very own Hollywood.
Seven Psychopaths doesn’t hold anything back though, and as a result it may come across as a little too dark for everyone’s tastes. Fair warning: it treats some serious subject matter with a sense of macabre that can be a jarring. But if audiences allow themselves to be lost in the insanity, it quickly becomes par for the course, and they’ll be up and rooting for the good psychos before they know it.
Unapologetic is the best word to describe McDonagh’s latest trip to the silver screen. It’s a great thing. Seven Psychopaths goes for broke, and thankfully emerges as refreshing breath of bat-shit-crazy fresh air. Certain audience members may roll their eyes once or twice at the Hollywood mockery that gets thrown in amidst all the murder and mayhem, but for the most part it’s all in good fun. Chances are likely, psycho or not, viewers will walk away with a teeny tiny guilty conscience and a great big smile.