Not since 2010’s “The Guard” have I had this much fun in the cinema. Martin McDonagh returns to the screen with his first film since 2008’s “In Bruges”, also starring Colin Farrell as a hit-man laying low in Bruges with Brendan Gleeson. His latest film certainly equals the standards raised at the last toll; it’s a bloody, violent, stylish and absolutely hilarious film pitting some fine talents such as Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson together in a brutal game of cat-in-mouse in a style echoing the dark humour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and the sharp, witty dialogue of Tarantino’s masterpiece “Pulp Fiction”.
Marty (Colin Farrell) is an Irish writer living in LA struggling to start his new screenplay titled “Seven Psychopaths”. He hasn’t even got beyond “Psychopath No. 1” and already his drinking problem is spiralling out of control. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is a slightly unhinged and failed actor who makes a living from kidnapping dogs and sending his partner-in-crime Hans (Christopher Walken) to the owner’s house to retrieve the money in award for ‘finding’ their beloved pet. Billy tries to help Marty by placing an ad in the newspaper calling on all psychopaths to come to Marty’s house to be interviewed for the chance of their story appearing in his screenplay. But it soon becomes apparent that Marty will not need to rely on the ad to bring the psychopaths in, because when Billy and Hans kidnap the Shih Tzu belonging to a sadistic gangster (Woody Harrelson) and Marty gets sucked into the mess, by the end of it all – if he is still alive that is – he’ll have one hell of a story to write.
“In Bruges” was pretty successful when it was released back in 2008, and “Seven Psychopaths” serves to be the long-awaited follow-up to that film from Martin McDonagh. While I’m undecided on which is the better film, “Seven Psychopaths” certainly lives up to the lofty standards set by “In Bruges” in terms of humour, sharp and witty dialogue and pure mayhem. Sam Rockwell (“The Green Mile”, “Choke”) is arguably the star of the film. His extroverted performance as the unhinged Billy is very enjoyable to watch; it’s a well composed and characteristic. Colin Farrell (“Tigerland”, “In Bruges”) looks somewhat lost at times, but it’s fitting for his character – an alcoholic writer with writer’s block. Rockwell’s Irish jokes and impersonation were surprisingly very good, unlike the vast majority of the kicks Hollywood tries to make at the Irish culture and accent. Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”, “Biloxi Blues”) has always stolen the show, and it’s no exception here. His character Hans, is very interesting, and Walken proves he was the perfect man to cast in this role. Woody Harrelson is personally one of my all-time favourite actors, if for nothing more than his psychotic look and domineering presence on screen. Ever since his lead role in the amazing “Natural Born Killers”, Harrelson has set his own standards and met them ever since. He’s superb in this film. Very funny and completely psychotic. The dialogue, brutal dark humour and witty one-liners have to be the best thing about the film alongside the exceptional performances from a superbly assembled cast (Which also includes singer Tom Waits).
“Seven Psychopaths” is one of the best films of 2012. The criss-crossing storyline imitates the best of Tarantino and has a very strong odour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, which McDonagh’s latest effort is slightly better than in my opinion. An absolutely enjoyable film that literally cuts your throat while you’re laughing; the violence is gorgeously bloody at times – stylized yet realistic. Hopefully McDonagh comes out in the next round with an equally superb, if not better, film.
– Joe Callan