I will start this review by saying that I have an extremely odd sense of humor. In fact, you might even get away with referring to me as a psychopath (but in a more correct way, you wouldn’t). So when I say that Seven Psychopaths is the runaway comedy of the year, you may look at me skeptically. But it’s true. Writer/director Martin McDonagh lays the laughs on thick in this over the top action/comedy, but still stays true to the humanity of the piece. And that, above all, is what this movie is. Extremely human.
McDonagh started his career as a playwright in Ireland, perhaps most well known for his tragicomedy Pillowman, as seen on the Fred Stone stage earlier last year. He made his transition to film with the award winning movie In Bruges. Farrell once again teamed up to star in this McDonagh vehicle, a movie best described as a love-child between Pillowman and In Bruges.
Now, if you’ve seen the trailer, I apologize…you are probably extremely confused about this film. Because, well, the trailer doesn’t really tell you anything. And all the clips are from the first 45 minutes of the movie.
Farrell is a screenwriter working on a script called Seven Psychopaths. To help relieve his writer’s block, his best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) brings him in on his dog kidnapping business (he steals dogs and returns them to their owner for a reward), which he runs with his partner Hans (Christopher Walken). One day they steal a Shih Tzu owned by Charlie (Woody Harrelson), a crime lord. Charlie leaves a bloody bath in his search for his dog, eventually chasing the three friends into the desert. And then they’re in a desert.
So I know what you’re thinking…you’ve seen this slap stick action comedy before. Trust me, you haven’t. The characters and abstract story-telling element (stories within stories, a plot device you are familiar with if you’ve read or seen Pillowman) make this film truly unique. You find yourself laughing as the body count begins piling higher and higher. The realistic nature of the action is a testament to McDonagh’s directing and writing, fitting in perfectly into the real world (no slow dramatic death scenes…well, there are and there aren’t. See the movie, you’ll understand).
Not only is the writing perfect, but the acting is some of the best acting that I have ever seen in an action movie. Farrell crafts the perfect lost, alcoholic writer, a departure from roles he has become known for. Sam Rockwell plays the perfect foil for his writer friend. But most importantly, Christopher Walken. I know that Walken has become something of a joke in the past few years, but this movie will change the way you see him. His acting is flawless, a lost soul seeking meaning in the world (his character is the deepest in the film, easily). Walken makes you fall in love with Hans, making every moment of conflict pop. And trust me, he sees lots of conflict.
See this movie. In theatres. It is a wild ride, a hilarious comedy and a gut wrenching drama: a character-driven voyage into the mind of a psychopath. I promise that you will not have a better time at a movie this year.