I love a good comedy, so choosing to review Seven Psychopaths, starring Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, was a no-brainer.
The film begins with screenwriter Marty, played by Farrell, struggling with writer’s block as he writes a screenplay, conveniently titled “Seven Psychopaths.” Marty’s eccentric friend Billy, played by Rockwell, and his partner-in-crime Hans, played by Walken, have been making money by kidnapping dogs and returning them for the reward. Things go south quickly when Billy kidnaps the shih tzu of the violent, psychotic gangster Charlie, played by Harrelson, who loves his dog more than anything. He goes on a quest of revenge, vowing to kill anyone even associated with the theft of his beloved pet.
The trio end up fleeing to the desert in fear of their lives. During their adventure, they come across more psychopaths, take down some bad guys and get plenty of inspiration for a screenplay. Unfortunately, the plot is rather messy and is the weakest part of the movie. While scenes themselves can be very creative and clever, there is not enough that ties these scenes together. It feels like a bunch of random events and encounters were just thrown together in a loose order. The film could have been more organized, possibly by subtracting a psychopath or two from the title. It might be best not to think about the story too much, as the film is meant to be crazy.
The movie itself feels like it was separated into two distinct parts: conversation and violence. While you might not know it from the trailers, “Seven Psychopaths” is an extremely violent, blood-soaked movie. The violence itself is not meant to be taken seriously; it is very over-the-top and a clear parody of action movies. While meant to be fun, if you’re not a fan of gore — like me — seeing somebody’s head get blown off may make you feel a bit uneasy. Violent action scenes occur throughout the movie, to the point where it gets overbearing. Action sequences can be fun, but too much is not a good thing.
The movie’s true potential shows when the guns are down. The writing has plenty of dry wit and very dark humor, which results in the movie’s most inspired moments. It parodies action movies, it pokes fun at Hollywood writing — it doesn’t even take itself seriously. The comedy is a perfect mix of dark, satirical and absurd, which will always keep a smile on your face. Interactions between characters are interesting and filled with quotable one-liners. Each of the characters are their own unique kind of crazy, making interactions between them interesting.
To say one actor outshined another would be a discredit to the entire cast. The whole movie is incredibly well-acted; it feels as if every actor was putting all their effort into their roles. Farrell, Rockwell and Walken have an amazing dynamic, and have some truly entertaining conversations, their take on Marty’s script being the standout.
Walken is particularly hilarious in his role, delivering a fantastic deadpan performance. Harrelson is an amazing villain — an over-the-top psychopath with just the right amount of crazy. The other characters that appear on screen may not be nearly as memorable, but are still very well acted.
As much of a parody of ultra-violent action films as it is a parody of Hollywood itself, “Seven Psychopaths” is an odd experiment of a movie. Its shortcomings can easily be ignored if you just sit back and enjoy the insanity. If you enjoy a movie with ultra-violence and get a laugh out of dark humor, you’ll get more than enough enjoyment out of this movie.