Review: SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS

By Laurie Coker

Rating: A-

Crazy stuff happens in Seven Psychopaths, from start to finish, and foul language flows like torrential rain, weaving together clever – albeit shocking – dialogue and some truly madcap mayhem. From its opening scene it becomes entirely apparent that Irish writer/director Martin McDonagh means to stun, not just entertain, and it works! While the underlying plot plays out quite simply, the ride is a wild and raucous good time, made more exciting by an outstanding cast, even with the script’s overt unabashedness.

While the film opens with outrageous, unexpected assassinations and hilarious, expletive ridden dialogue, the film’s main story revolves around struggling Irish screenwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell), who wants to pen a story with crazy killers that ends with a message about love. His buddy, Bill, (Sam Rockwell) tries to help, but Bill’s life as dog kidnapper interferes with Marty in wholly unexpected ways, and yet, all the while feeding Marty’s story. Basically as events unfurl, Marty’s screenplay develops. Outlandish things happen – one psycho, Charlie Costello, (Woody Harrelson) goes to killer lengths to recover his stolen dog; another Hans (Christopher Walken), Bill’s partner in the dog-napping ring, continues a sorted history of craziness that began with his daughter’s death; a third, an Asian crime maestro (Takeshi Kitano), harbors pent up rage and there are more psychos (seven?).

McDonagh’s script is certainly violent, but it is equally clever and engaging. At one point in the film Marty says “I don’t want it to be one more film about guys with guns in their hands. I want it to be about love,” and this sort of strange, dark, satirical wittiness flows throughout – certainly absurd, but equally amusing and clever. And McDonagh’s treatment of women is similarly satirical – those in the film do little, except get killed off. These ladies consist of Marty’s bitchy girlfriend (Abbie Cornish), who he doesn’t seem to like much; Charlie’s overweight and short-lived dog walker (Gabourey Sidibe); Hans’ soft-spoken wife (Linda Bright Clay), undergoing cancer treatment; and sexy Angela (Olga Kurylenko), who’s bedding both Charlie and Billy and who seems to like neither.  Notably, gender is not the only hat tossed in McDonagh’s ring – he barbs, race, obesity and cops among other things.

McDonagh created colorful characters, weirdly intriguing and except for the Asian killer, wholly engaging. The subplot of the Japanese psychopath feels disconnected, like an unfinished sidebar, adding little to the story. All aspects of the film are absurd, but it matters not, really when the whole is just plain fun – brutish, bizarre, preposterous to be sure, but wildly hilarious. Even as the film trips over its own absurdity, the delightful cast – each as big and bold as their characters – keeps it buoyant. It is hard to miss when the likes of the irrepressible, deadpan delivery of Walken is coupled with the ostentatious zaniness of Rockwell and Harrelson and the more subdued, but completely effective Ferrell, whose facial expressions alone speak volumes.

The entire audience, including myself and especially my friend, laughed at all the twisted scenarios and that, in and of itself, is disturbing, especially given the sorted subject matter. McDonagh provides a few surprising twists and an ending that both gratifies and undoubtedly engrosses. Great fun! The R-rated Seven Psychopaths won’t satisfy everyone, but it will please fans of films like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Smokin’ Aces. I am slapping an A- in my grade book – placing one seems far too placid.

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