Wow! What can I possibly say that fellow staffer Aaron Neuwirth is not going to mention in his extensive review of Seven Psychopaths? Well, for starters, this film is brilliant. Pull away the many layers and what you obviously have is a masterfully crafted screenplay by the film’s co-producer and director, Martin McDonagh. I guess it also doesn’t hurt that this dark, comedic film also stars the likes of Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko and Abbie Cornish. And wow, I thought Sam Rockwell was crazy good in Iron Man 2, but his onscreen chemistry with Farrell and Walken takes the prize here. Seven Psychopaths won’t shatter any box office records this year, but it’s the closest appreciation I’ll have of a Tarantino Pulp Fiction like experience in the theater until of course Django Unchained comes out.
Seven Psychopaths revolves around a drunk screenwriter, Marty (Farrell), whose world is conflicted with alcoholism, his crumbling relationship with his live-in girlfriend, Kaya (Cornish), and his unfinished (I guess you can say not even started) screenplay of the same name, Seven Psychopaths. Marty’s best friend, Billy Bickle (Rockwell), is an unemployed actor and a part time dog thief (with one hell of a backstory and a wild imagination) that desperately wants to help Marty write the screenplay by whatever (and I emphasis that word) means necessary. Billy strongly believes that Marty needs to lose the booze addiction and focus on the prize. Marty’s kryptonite…he’s Irish. It’s in his genes to drink. LOL. Love it!
Hans (Walken) is Billy’s reluctant partner in crime, in the dog knapping world that is. Like Billy, Hans has a backstory (and it’s a hella of a good one), but I’m not going to spoil it for you here. Charlie (Harrelson) is a violent gangster who will do anything and kill anyone the crosses his path to get his dog, a Shih Tzu named Bonny, back that Billy stole. We also learn that Billy has his own agenda and that it wasn’t just any ordinary dog knapping…it was intentional. However, tragedy strikes when Hans’ dying wife gets in the middle of Charlie’s crazed war path. And then bam…suddenly Hans is now involved and thus a formidable, yet comically memorable trio is formed. And it’s also here, where I feel like I could mention this without no spoilers, that Billy writes an ad in a famous LA trade publication seeking willing psychopaths to share their stories to feed the idea bank of Marty. And one such crazed psychopath steps out of the shadows to tell his tale, complete with bunny and all. In retrospect I guess you could say YES…despite the large cast, character development was paramount here.
The trio’s chemistry between Walken, Farrell and Rockwell just clicked naturally like the Bee Gees soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever does. It just works and I’ll go on record saying this is probably one of Walken’s most memorable and finest silver screen performances ever. And truly, what else can you say about Colin Farrell that hasn’t been said before? I think the man can perform an entire feature with his eyebrows alone. Mr. Harrelson shakes things up a bit with his violent behavior and outbursts, but wins you over with quirky, fun-loving nature. Underneath it all, the guy’s a mobster with a huge soft spot for animals…a heart of gold. One has to admire that quality. I wish more gangsters were like that. But don’t let that soft spot fool you, he’ll still stab you in the back when you least expect it. And that’s why I like this script so much. It’s multi-layered and multi-dimensional. It reads more like an Inception piece, but without the dream sequences. This is a screenwriting movie for all the aspiring screenwriters out there. That’s probably why I identify so well with it. While it’s not overly entertaining, this movie is a genre bender with both wit and charm and therefore deserving of the high score I have bestowed upon it. Seven Psychopaths releases in theaters this Friday, the 12th. GO SEE IT.