I could make this an incredibly short review and simple write: Go buy Seven Psychopaths and enjoy it for eternity. That, of course, wouldn’t be enough for most people, so I’ll continue forward with this review for those who wish to read on, because those who have already heard enough are likely tying their shoes right now before heading out to pick up this comedic gem. Don’t worry – there are plenty of copies for everybody, so you can safely go pick yours up once you’ve finished reading.
Seven Psychopaths is the latest film from writer-director Martin McDonagh, of In Bruges previously. While this film wasn’t shown any love from the Academy, that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a quality film; McDonagh has a knack for writing quirky characters who get wrapped up in many entertaining – and often hilarious – situations, which Seven Psychopaths has plenty of.
The film stars Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken as a trio who wind up the targets of a high-ranking psychotic mafia man named Charlie (Woody Harrelson) after they inadvertently steal his dog. Now this is about as far as any advertisements go when it comes to describing the plot, and while it doesn’t really do the film any favours in terms of making it seem overly engrossing, it’s pretty understandable that so much of the other stuff was left out in order to keep the story fun and surprising, and the jokes fresh. The problem is that it doesn’t matter how fun and surprising your story is, or how fresh the jokes are if people aren’t inclined to go see it.
So what I’ll say is ignore the advertisements and just watch the movie, as there’s so much going on within it that the dog kidnapping – while the inciting incident to why the trio are hunted by Charlie – is really just the one background constant throughout story that keeps things moving forward. McDonagh really knows how to tie together a tight story, and the quick, sharp dialogue passed between characters is nothing short of perfection.
This is the kind of movie where you’ll find yourself laughing out loud repeatedly, even if you’re watching it alone, simply due to the wonderful comedic delivery of all involved. It’s really hard to have a favourite character, as each have their own moments where they shine; although some moments are more memorable than others.
Farrell is spot on as Marty, a struggling screenwriter, and the “normal” one of the group who is used to keep the story somewhat grounded in reality. I use the term normal lightly here, as even he’s got his own quirky characteristics and problems that make him fit right in with everyone else in the story instead of being a fish out of water guide for the audience.
Rockwell is amazing once again, really showcasing his range that helps make him one of the more versatile actors around at the moment. He plays Marty’s best friend Billy, and it’s clear he had loads of fun with bringing his character Billy to life. Even though I just said it’s hard to have a favourite, I slightly lean towards enjoying the work of Rockwell most, just because of some of the ideas that Billy comes up with. The thing is, his ideas are that much funnier because of the reactions of Marty and Hans (Walken), so it really is a group dynamic that helps keep things entertaining throughout.
Hans rounds out the main trio, and unsurprisingly, Walken is a joy to watch. This sounds like a big praise-fest, and that’s because it is. The film is extremely fun to watch, and while the strong script helps, it takes quality actors to bring it to its full potential, and that’s what McDonagh has found in this group. Hans is Billy’s partner in the dog kidnapping business, which makes him money to help pay for his wife Myra’s (Linda Bright Clay) cancer treatment. McDonagh does a good job of keeping such a heavy topic from ever slowing down the fast, comedic flow of the film, and it’s mainly used to give some character depth and motivation.
On the supporting front, Harrelson’s turn as the psychopathic mob boss is a great one, as he continues to prove his worth in the comedy genre time and time again with varying character portrayals. Charlie is crazy, but he’s also got a heart – at least when it comes to his Shih Tzu, Bonny. Then there’s Tom Waits, who plays Zachariah, a psychopath who responds to a personal ad placed by Billy, which was done to help Marty write his screenplay (see, I told you there was more to all this than just a dog-napping!). Waits has a great screen presence, and his character leaves a mark that audiences will likely remember as the credits start to roll. Just a hint: keep watching into the credits for a few seconds.
McDonagh really nailed it once again, bringing to life such a finely crafted meta screenplay that’s packed with hilarity. The film is so engaging that even though it comes in at just under two hours (rather hefty for a comedy) it never feels like it’s dragging at any point. This is greatly in part due to the swift pacing McDonagh sets right from the start, as well as an indicator to just how strong his script is.
Seven Psychopaths has so much going for it that it very likely would have slipped into my top ten films of 2012 (much like it did for fellow Inside Pulse critic Travis Leamons) had I seen it last year. It’s one of those movies that can be watched time and time again and never truly lose its comedic touch, as there’s both so much to love and the delivery is so strong that you can’t help but laugh. To paraphrase Marty, it’s just f#%kin’ great!
The video and audio transfers are both really well done here, as the sound mixes come through beautifully, and the dialogue is clear and strong. The picture looks great, and is full of bright, sharp colours throughout most of the film, but when the night hits, the darks and shadows come through beautifully.
Unfortunately the film lacks in extras, but I can’t really allow that to detract from such a great film. While a commentary, or larger behind-the-scenes feature would’ve been nice, what we end up with are six featurettes that are more promotional pieces than actual bonus features.
Six Featurettes – They’re all under two minutes in length and it would take me longer to describe them than it would for you to watch them, so it’s easier for me to just touch on them as a whole here instead of breaking them down individually. They’re just quick interview pieces mixed with clips from the film in order to promote it.
Gag reel — This reel is actually surprisingly unfunny and short considering all the material they likely had lying around. It won’t hurt to check it out as it only lasts a couple of minutes.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – The usual is found in this department, with the best stuff making it into the film, and the things that would throw off the pacing left by the wayside.
Lack of bonus material aside, Seven Psychopaths is a must-own Blu-ray that you should go out and purchase at your earliest convenience. It’s got loads of laughs; superb acting on all fronts, and a high amount of replay value that really makes bringing this one home a no brainer. Highly recommended.
CBS Films presents Seven Psychopaths. Written and Directed by: Martin McDonagh. Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko. Running time: 130 minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: February 19, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.