Christopher Walken in 'Seven Psychopaths'
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
‘Seven Psychopaths’ sees Colin Farrell and director Martin McDonagh teaming up once again after 2008’s ‘In Bruges’. Farrell plays a screenwriter, Marty Faranan, trying to write a screenplay that’s also titled ‘Seven Psychopaths’. Right from the get-go, you know you’re in for a smart and strangely meta-satire about the perils of writing in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, Marty seems to have a little bit of a drinking problem. Best friend Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), an unemployed actor who also spends his quality free time freewheeling as a dog thief, aids him in his quest. What’s a dog thief? He steals dogs together with his elderly partner, Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken), and then they return it to the owners for a sum of money.
Unfortunately, Billy happens to steal a little Shih Tzu, Bonny, who happens to be gangster Charlie Costello’s beloved dog. With Costello hot on their trail, Marty may just finish his screenplay… if he lives.
‘Seven Psychopaths’ trailer
Aided by a strong dose of violence and dark humour, the result is a movie that offers multiple ways of entertainment – it’s a gangster flick, a buddy movie and an exploration of the limits, clichés and tropes of those genres.
McDonagh’s writing often toys with the mainstays of such movies, such as Billy’s desire to have a final shootout in a desert, and in turn, it offers up a plethora of canny one-liners fired by the cast, in particular from the impeccable Sam Rockwell.
The dialogue is entertaining even by itself, and is almost reminiscent of movies from Quentin Tarantino or Aaron Sorkin. However, such material can only look good if delivered by a capable cast and thankfully, McDonagh has found a cast that speaks his language.
Colin Farrell is the straight man in the fracas, putting in a wisely subdued performance that allows his co-stars and their showier performances to shine. Farrell’s eyebrows are put to work in this movie, frequently expressing his disgust and confusion at the ongoings around him. That allows him to serve as a great foil to Rockwell’s Billy, whose manic character frequently spouts lines that blur that line between all-knowing wisdom and ridiculous idiocy. He is quite often the best part of the movie by far, as he isn’t just the funniest part but also the main driving force behind much of the plot; an essential part… as opposed to a role written in just for milking laughs.
Christopher Walken is typically deadpan in a performance that’s almost a parody of himself at times, while Harrelson is wickedly funny as a gangster devoted to his hapless dog but completely uncaring for the humans that surround him. Together, the cast is electric; there are scenes so magnificently funny that the cinema was filled with laughter that just wouldn’t stop – every time it died down, something would happen on screen and guffawing would ensue again.
The film is not without its flaws; it loses sight of its message in the final act and may even be too cartoony for some. But those are merely personal preferences, and even the most cynical of haters will not be able to deny the psycho-fun of ‘Seven Psychopaths’.
The mix of a supremely talented cast, strong performances and smart, genre-bending writing provides a mix of screwball joy that’ll make for two hours of quality entertainment in the cinema.