In 2008 Irish playwright Martin McDonagh made the transition from stage to film with the critically acclaimed movie In Bruges. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, the movie went pretty unnoticed at the box office but garnered cult status once it was released on DVD. Four-years later McDonagh is back, again teaming with Farrell, for another dark, violence-filled comedy, Seven Psychopaths.
When you hear the title of this movie you expect it to have some sort of crazy edge to it, well not only does it have a crazy edge, it oozes crazy from every frame, every line, every scene and every character that lights up the screen.
Alongside Farrell, McDonagh has assembled an all-star cast to deliver his version of crazy including Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Christopher Walken, Harry Dean Stanton, Woody Harrelson, and Gabourey Sidibe.
However, despite the suggestion of the title, this movie is not about seven psychopaths per se. The story follows down-on-his luck screen writer Marty (Farrell) who has come up with the title for a movie, Seven Psychopaths, but that is about as far as he has got. When his girlfriend Kaya (Cornish) gets sick of his drinking, she kicks him out and he is forced to take refuge on his best friend Billy’s (Rockwell) couch, a conman, who along with his business partner Hans (Christopher Walken) steals dogs for a living – they dognap the pooches and then return the mutts when their owners offer a reward.
Things take a nasty and blood-splattering turn when Billy steals a Shih Tzu – the beloved pet of the local crime lord, Charlie (Woody Harrelson). The three men soon find themselves on the run from the enraged, not-afraid-to-kill, well dressed gangster.
With heads exploding and throats being cut, on the surface, McDonagh could be accused of just using violence for the sake of it, but that is not what you get in Seven Psychopaths. McDonagh is posing a question and delving into a grey area – why are we, the viewing public, so entertained and preoccupied with violence? Can you be vulnerable and violent at the same time? McDonagh reckons you can and makes a very good effort at proving it. There are stellar performances from Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken.
Seven Psychopaths is a smart, well-delivered, dark comedy packed with full-on violence. It questions our obsession with violence and offers the conclusion that some psychopaths may not be as mad or bad as they seem on the surface.
Suzanne Byrne - Four stars