PG Cooper: Seven Psychopaths Review

Posted: October 15, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews


Release date: October 12th, 2012

Running time:1 hour and 50 minutes

Written by: Martin McDonagh

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken

Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s 2008 film In Bruges made a great impression with critics upon release. The film was half black comedy and half crime thriller, and for the most part it worked very well. I really enjoy In Bruges, and greatly anticipated McDonagh’s newest film, Seven Psychopaths. The last looked great and I was hoping McDonagh could deliver another hilarious and interesting film.

Seven Psychopaths has a wild plot, but I’ll do my best to explain it. Marty (Colin Farrell) is a screenwriter struggling with his latest script, titled “Seven Psychopaths”. Marty’s best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) wants to help with the screenplay, but is also busy running a business where he kidnaps dogs while getting is friend Hans (Christopher Walken) to return them. Things get crazy for them when Billy kidnaps a Shih Tzu belonging to Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson), a violent criminal who comes seeking revenge.

That may not sound too wild, but believe me when I say things get zany fast. Where In Bruges was grounded in reality, Seven Psychopaths operates on its own logic. The film is a surreal satire of Hollywood screenwriting and films in general. Characters acknowledge that they’re characters in a film and frequent occurrences are so improbable they aren’t meant to be taken literally. In fact I’m not entirely sure what was supposed to be taken seriously and what wasn’t. Some of the satirical elements are pretty interesting, but the film is a mess and by the end I wasn’t entirely sure what the point of it all was. I respect what McDonagh was trying to do, but I don’t think he entirely succeeded.

I might have gone easier on the film’s cartoonish nature had Seven Psychopaths been funnier. While it does have its share of laughs, Seven Psychopaths isn’t nearly as funny as In Bruges. There are jokes that work, including one truly hysterical scene, but there’s no consistency. Even the jokes that do work are more amusing than laugh out loud funny. On the plus side, the film does have some creative scenes of violence and some good action. Granted, these scenes won’t be for the squeamish. I wouldn’t call the violence here gratuitous, but it’s certainly brutal.

The film’s biggest saving grace is the cast. Almost every cast member does a great job. Colin Farrell plays straight man to the lunacy surrounding him and Christopher Walken gives his best performance in years. Massive credit is also due to actress Linda Bright Clay who in a small role actually got me to feel for her despite the absurdity of the film. But it’s Sam Rockwell who steals the show as Billy. Billy seems like a pretty normal guy in spite of his dog napping habit, but he eventually proves to be the most psychotic of anyone. Rockwell is a lot of fun to watch and most of the laughs I did get from Seven Psychopaths came from him.

I’m torn with Seven Psychopaths. It’s a film with ambition, interesting ideas, and you can tell everyone involved was trying. But it’s also a jumbled mess which doesn’t have the laughs a movie like this should have. Granted, there are moments of enjoyment sprinkled throughout and I did enjoy the cast. Perhaps in time I’ll come to appreciate Seven Psychopaths, but for now I can’t help but be disappointed.

Rating: C


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