|Although there are hints that things will get weird|
Marty (Colin Farrell) is a successful screenwriter suffering from writer's block. The script he is working on is titled "Seven Psychopaths," but he's having trouble actually coming up with any characters. That's where Billy (Sam Rockwell) comes in. Billy is Marty's best friend, but he's not a particularly good influence. Instead of working, Billy and Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap dogs and then collect reward money when the owners post flyers around the neighborhood. Billy is trying to help Marty finish his script, although nothing seems to be working. That's why Billy puts an ad in the paper for psychopaths to contact Marty to tell him their stories.
|...which ultimately leads to Tom Waits carrying a bunny during a firefight|
|This is what you expect, but you get something slightly different|
The acting in Seven Psychopaths is some of the better comedic work I have seen in a while. As the mostly normal point-of-view character, Colin Farrell does a great job being surprised and helpless; he is mainly reacting to the other actors here, but he's refined the acting capabilities of his eyebrows as he's gotten older. Sam Rockwell, as usual, was a bizarre delight. Rockwell plays goofy exceedingly well, but he is exceptional when given a good script. Christopher Walken was unmistakably Christopher Walken. Some might argue that he's leaning into self-parody territory these days, but I love seeing him in good movies --- especially ones where his weirdness doesn't stand out more than anybody else's.
|If I walked into my home and found Christopher Walken, I would expect him to look like this|
|"Somebody cast me in a Coen Brothers movie! A comedy, this time!"|
|More entertaining than it appears|
Martin McDonagh clearly has a talent for getting the best from his actors, although the more readily apparent skill would be writing awesome dialogue. Here's where McDonagh succeeds where Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarentino often fail: he actually develops his one-dimensional characters. It would have been extremely easy to make Marty the soul of this movie --- he's the only remotely normal main character, after all --- but he went out of his way to show the pain of almost every goofy-ass character in this script.
|Exception noted, Mr. Harrelson|
That is a good thing and a bad thing. The good side I have already explained --- funny script, unexpected depth, etc. --- but the bad side comes into play about halfway through the film. It gets meta. I'm not a huge fan of metafiction, but I can appreciate when it is done well. Thankfully, Seven Psychopaths doesn't screw it up or get too pretentious. This is probably my favorite metafictional movie since Adaptation. It's not that the movie has a metafictional aspect to it that bothers me --- it's that that aspect doesn't really come into play until the film is half over. It felt like the script suddenly sobered up at the 45-minute mark and decided to put off the predictably silly and violent ending that it was so clearly heading toward in the first half of the film. Had the meta been more prevalent earlier in the movie (or less prevalent later), this would have been far more effective. Still, Seven Psychopaths is a blast to watch.