Sometimes when I go to the cinema I’m just looking for something a little different. I don’t want the same old tired formulaic Hollywood fare shoved down my throat. Martin McDonagh’s (In Bruges) films certainly fill that bill. They are filled with whip smart dialogue and quirky humour. His sophomore film is no different.
Seven Psychopaths is one of those ensemble pictures that seem to star everyone and his dog…in a good way in this case. Almost every scene brings about another known actor into the fold. Usually when that is occurring you know that despite the size of their role that each of the actors liked the script/director and wanted to work on the film.
Marty (Colin Farrell – Alexander, Total Recall) and Billy (Sam Rockwell – The Green Mile, Iron Man 2) are friends. Marty is a struggling screenwriter and drinks a little too much. Right now he is having trouble writing his latest screenplay. He has the title “Seven Psychopaths” and has one of the psychopaths – Quaker Psychopath – but that is about it.
We are not really sure what Billy does. That is until we see that he is partners with Hans (Christopher Walken – Deer Hunter, Click) in a scheme in which they steal dogs and then return them to their unsuspecting owners which usually results in a reward. One day the con duo robs the wrong dog and it changes their life and everyone around them.
Charlie (Woody Harrelson – No Country for Old Men, Zombieland) is a mafia boss with a very violent side. That is if his guy cooperates. Charlie is very upset when his beloved Shih Tzu disappears and he will do anything and kill anyone to get Bonny back.
Out of all this it seems like Marty will now have enough material for his screenplay…if he lives to tell the tale.
In a strange sort of way (fast dialogue? Quirky sense of humour? Loads of graphic violence?) this film reminded me of the style Quentin Tarantino has made famous. Instead it is better than Tarantino (especially his most recent films) in that it has plenty of layers and a story that keeps you involved and interested. Maybe I should throw Guy Ritchie and the Coen Brothers into that mix, then. Layer by layer like an onion the story is revealed to the viewer. The deeper you get into it the more you realize that all these characters are all interrelated.
Speaking of the characters as I previously stated this is a huge and well known cast. Made up by the likes of Abbie Cornish (Limitless, Bright Star), Harry Dean Stanton (Alien, The Godfather: Part II), Michael Pitt (from television’s Boardwalk Empire), Kevin Corrigan (Pineapple Express, The Departed), Tom Waits (Fight Club, Twelve Monkeys), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, Tower Heist), Zeljko Ivanek (Donnie Brasco, Live Free or Die Hard), and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Hitman) the cast is big, varied, talented, and perfectly cast. They are mostly what can be classified as character actors but in this film they fill the shoes of odd/interesting/rich characters no matter the size of the roles.
At several points during the film I found myself wondering whether this was a farce or a film destined to become a cult classic? Or would it become both? It is dark, twisted, hilarious, gory, and like the type of story that people tell around the campfire. You can tell by my excessive use of commas that McDonagh’s film is a mish mash of styles and genres. A veritable film stew. My bottom line is how could you not love a film that involves a guy carrying a bunny, a Quaker who wants justice for the murder of his daughter, serial killers, doggie kidnapping, the Vietnam War, hitmen, con men, an American hooker who speaks fluent Vietnamese, and a final stand in the desert? It is hysterical in a sick and twisted way.