Director Martin McDonaugh’s difficult second album, Seven Psychopaths is the Irish Director’s follow up to the 2008 sleeper hit In Bruges. The massively disjointed plot concerns a screenwriter called Martin (Colin Farrell) and his inability to complete his latest script which he has titled Seven Psychopaths. His writing is hampered by a drink problem and his disruptive friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), a dog kidnapper. One day Billy and his friend Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap a dog belonging to gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson). Martin’s script begins to take shape as he encounters more and more psychopaths but the three friends end up on the run while trying to escape the Mob.
I’ve been looking forward to Seven Psychopaths for a long time and when I first saw the trailer a few months back I instantly watched it again because I loved it so much. It’s with a heavy heart then that now having seen the film I have to report that it’s a bit, average. There are some clever ideas in there and some great little vignettes but on the whole there is far too much going on. Several times I thought to myself “That would make a good movie” but then it was dropped instantly. Despite several good performances, some great direction and a few funny moments I left feeling underwhelmed.
The highlight of the film for me was Sam Rockwell’s screenplay climax. It was crazy, funny and exciting which is kind of what I was hoping for from the rest of the movie. As I’ve already said, there were some other moments like that but I’d seen most of them in the trailer. As with a lot of comedy, most of the funnier stuff is in the two minute trailer, leaving very little unseen for the other 108 minutes. Another problem is that the film is clever but it isn’t as clever as it thinks it is. One supposed twist was given away in the very first scene, a scene which otherwise was excellent and featured a couple of welcome Boardwalk Empire cameos. The twist though was far too obvious and then I spent the whole film waiting for the actual reveal. At one stage Christopher Walken’s character says “I like it, it’s got layers”. For me this was the problem with Seven Psychopaths, there were just too many layers and too much going on.
Despite the problems though, there is a third of a good movie here. I really liked the way the vignettes were shot; they looked as though they were from a different film and were stylish and clean. The vignettes themselves were often interesting and occasionally came back to join up with the rest of the script but once one had then you were just left waiting for the others to. On the plus side though they did create some nice reveals which tied up some of the loose ends. There has been talk of a great Christopher Walken scene which is found in the trailer. While that is great, by the forth or fifth time of watching, it loses its edge. For me his great scene came very later on when he describes an idea for a Vietnamese character. I thought the writing and performance was incredible. It was a fantastic idea that was wonderfully expressed by Walken.
There are a lot of actors in the film who I really like. I’m a big Sam Rockwell fan and he was nicely mad and quirky. Christopher Walken is also excellent and one of the strongest things in the film. Woody ‘Cooler than Sam Jackson in a fridge’ Harrelson is also well cast as a vicious gangster in search of his missing dog. I also enjoyed Colin Farrell’s performance. I think he is much more suited to this kind of role rather than the blockbuster hero. There were also a couple of nice cameos from the likes of Paris, Texas star Harry Dean Stanton and singer Tom Waits. The female characters had nothing to do though and both Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko had a total screen time of about three minutes, something which is alluded to in a strange in joke about Martin’s script.