Thanks to his debut, 'In Bruges,' writer/director Martin McDonagh has shown himself to be skilled at tackling material that is violent and dark, yet also funny.
Will his followup, 'Seven Psychopaths' continue his positive momentum or will it be a case of the sophomore slump?
Marty (Colin Farrell) is an alcoholic screenwriter with an idea for a story called 'Seven Psychopaths.' He is having trouble with it, though. His actor friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell) wants to offer his input. He even takes out an ad in the paper inviting all of the people of Los Angeles with mental illnesses and crazy stories to show up at Marty's house for a chance to contribute to a Hollywood screenplay. This doesn't sit well with Marty. Billy supports himself by collaborating with Hans (Christopher Walken) on a scam. They abduct dogs and collect the rewards from their owners.
This proves to be problematic when Billy snags a Shih Tzu named Bonny from Charlie (Woody Harrelson), a hot-headed gangster. Charlie is practically hysterical over this dog and goes to great lengths to find out who stole Bonny. The dognappers and Marty then go on the run as the gangsters begin to close in with a few casualties along the way.
Will Marty ever finish his script? Will the three men survive the mob?
The tone is similar to 'In Bruge' which makes sense. This particular story is broader in terms of comedy and scope. It is louder, more brash, more violent, dumber and far gorier. The concept of restraint has completely gone out the window. That actually works in the film's favor though it will certainly limit the number of people who see and enjoy this.
The characters in the movie frequently comment on the various cliches common in these violent kinds of movies. What is truly funny is that they are also making commentary about the very story that they are in. Yeah, most of the women here are given literally nothing to do and certainly get the short end of the stick, but that is part of the joke. These kinds of movies have done that forever and this exaggerates that point. At times, this whole production borders on a self-aware parody.
The climax is a little messy with things slowing down out in the desert and an active imagination taking the story down a few odd avenues. Thankfully, there is still a good amount of action during this time.
Farrell, once again, benefits from working with McDonagh. For a protagonist, his Marty is a bit passive and along for the ride, but he is meant to be the flawed voice of reason here. Rockwell, Walken and Harrelson get to have the most fun. It's also nice to see Tom Waits add a bit of insanity to the mix. The actual gathering of psychopaths is really quite a gas though it's not as prolonged or far-reaching as one might think. Also, don't think that this is even remotely close to reminding you of 'Seven Samurai' despite the title.
Special features include: a few previews.
If you like your movies to be deliriously violent, quite funny and incredibly (if self-consciously) cool, then you will probably really like 'Seven Psychopaths.'
Add an extra half star to the rating.
Rated R 110 minutes 2013