Disclaimer: Minor spoilers to follow. Obviously.
Marty (Colin Farrell), an alcoholic screenwriter, knows that the title of his script is Seven Psychopaths. He is absolutely clueless about who the psychopaths are, what they do and how the script ends.
Marty’s obnoxious best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is determined to help him with the story in-between acting auditions and returning kidnapped dogs with Hans, his cravat-wearing older friend (Christopher Walken), for a cash reward from grateful owners.
The “dog-borrowing” business is thriving until they borrow the wrong dog, a Shih-Tzu named Bonnie who belongs to gangster Charles Costello (Woody Harrelson).
What makes Seven Psychopaths entertaining is that it does not take itself seriously in any way, and once you make your peace with that, you will definitely enjoy the film much more. Perfectly blending humour and violence, this film reminded me quite a bit of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Pulp Fiction.
At its core, this violent crime comedy is about friendship. Marty and Billy drive each other crazy throughout most of the film and are complete opposites but they really do love each other like brothers. Hans, although a little weird, fits right in and the three of them bond over Marty’s script, which they all take very seriously, despite the fact that an enraged gangster is hunting them down.
However, this crime comedy is not all about one-liners and outrageous moments. Those opting for a more dramatic cinematic experience will appreciate the story-telling ability of Martin McDonagh and how beautifully captivating the stories of The Quaker, The Viet Cong and The Serial Killer Killers are. These powerful stories all tell tales of revenge and retribution. It is good to sometimes put the humour aside for a moment and make your audience feel and resonate with psychopathic killers who are ultimately human.
I remember watching a trailer for Seven Psychopaths after watching the actual movie and thinking to myself, “is this the same movie?” Some trailers go so far as to list the psychopaths but are intentionally incorrect – blatantly misleading the viewer. Perhaps that was the point. Let the viewer watch the movie and be surprised when they see the dream sequences, including the amazing shoot out that Billy offers as a perfect ending for Marty’s script.
There are some fairly ridiculous scenes, especially in the climatic shootout in the desert. Seeing someone lie on the ground with a bullet in their head and ask a dog for its paw is ridiculous, but not quite as ridiculous as all 90 minutes of that Clive Owen action flick Shoot Em Up.
While Seven Psychopaths is not as serious as The Godfather it is definitely entertaining. The dialogue is very well-written and all the actors pull out top performances, even Tom Waits as Zachariah the creepy bunny guy. Those who enjoy crime comedies with lots of witty dialogue and gruesome violence will really enjoy this film.
Notable scenes: The film begins with two hit-men (played by Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Pitt) discussing the fact that they have to kill their boss’s girlfriend and shoot her in the eyes. The Tarantino-esque nature of this scene is perfect: from the witty banter of the two hitmen to the masked Jack of Diamonds slowly approaching from the distance and shooting them both in the back of the head. This dark yet humourous scene sets the tone for the rest of the film and sparks your interest immediately – as the opening scene of any film should do.
Notable performance: Sam Rockwell is a talented and severely underrated actor who steals the show in Seven Psychopaths. It becomes very clear while watching that this is Rockwell’s movie and he is determined to have the movie end his way. His performance as an insufferable and unfiltered psychopath is more than just that of comedic brilliance. We laugh as he talks himself into trouble and does irrational things but we love that his character exists because it makes the entire film that much more entertaining.
Favourite quote: “I don’t have a drinking problem. I just like drinking.” – Marty.
A little trivia: In the graveyard scene, the grave that the Jack of Diamonds killer is hiding behind is named “Rourke”. Mickey Rourke was initially cast in the movie, but dropped out after disagreements with the director.
About the author: Dean is a co-founding member of BTG Lifestyle, and an aspiring screenwriter and filmmaker who just so happens to be the eighth psychopath, but was deleted from this film because apparently “he just randomly walked on set.” Whatever.