With In Bruges, writer and director Martin McDonagh made quite the feature film debut, crafting a well written and superbly acted tale that has deservedly achieved cult status. So it comes as no surprise that all eyes are on his follow up film, Seven Psychopaths. A much different film from In Bruges, I can honestly say it's not what anybody expected.
Marty (Colin Farrell) is a screenwriter struggling to write his latest feature, Seven Psychopaths. When his friends Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap the dog of unhinged gangster Billy Costello (Woody Harrelson), Marty finds unlikely inspiration from the whole crazy situation.
As you can gather from the above synopsis, this film is as meta as they come. Every so often the film plays out excerpts from Marty's script, as he tries to get a handle on his psychotic characters, in an attempt to save them from becoming cliched. It's not so much a film within a film, as the writers drafting process within a film. With Farrell as his mouthpiece, McDonagh is making a comment on cliched psychotic characters, and tries to subvert what we have come to expect. And subvert he does. This movie is anything but predictable, zigging when the only logical outcome is to zag. The story constantly evolves before your very eyes, leading to an extremely satisfying pay off. The script is expertly written, chock full of wonderful little details, over the top gore, jet black humour, and character moments (Walken in particular, more on that later). It starts off with a bang, quite literally, and keeps that pace for the most part. There are one or two lulls, especially in the 2nd act where the film becomes three people talking around a campfire, and every so often it felt I was receiving a lecture on storytelling, but these are minor gripes that don't take away from a wonderfully crafted movie.
The casting is the ace up Seven Psychopaths' sleeve, with each actor playing their roles perfectly. Farrell's Marty is pretty much an observer in his own story, stepping back and letting the craziness unfold. As we know Rockwell plays psychotics very well, and that is definitely the case here. He walks a very fine line between calm reason and out of control insanity, delivering some of the movies best lines. But Walken owns the show as the deeply religious Hans. His character is the most fleshed out, and the actor completely steps into the role, delivering a performance that jumps from hilarious to absolutely heart breaking, sometimes in the same scene. It's one of his best performances in years, and reminds us what a fantastic actor he is. These three actors together work wonderfully well together, providing the movies best scenes. Woody Harrelson is also fantastic as a surprisingly vulnerable hard man.
A smart and superbly crafted black comedy, Seven Psychopath's delivers on what McDonagh achieved with In Bruges. Full of great performances and wonderful moments, this adds up to an extremely entertaining night at the cinema.