Martin McDonagh’s first feature length film “In Bruges” was great. It possessed enough crass humor and sentimentality to make the film lovable. While his second film, “Seven Psychopaths,” has the kind of offensive sense of humor, it lacks a true soft side.
Marty (Colin Farrell) is an alcoholic screenwriter struggling to pen his next script, something he’s aptly titled “Seven Psychopaths.” His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) encourages him to interview real life ‘psychopaths’ for inspiration. When Billy isn’t pestering Marty, he and his partner Hans (Christoper Walken) kidnap dogs, which they later return in exchange for a reward. One day, Hans unknowingly kidnaps a mobster’s beloved Shih Tzu named Bonnie. An emotional wreck, Charlie (Woody Harrelson) sets out to find and kill Bonnie’s kidnappers.
There are a handful of recognizable actors in “Seven Psychopaths,” but the only ones worth paying attention to are Rockwell, Harrelson, Walken, and a brief cameo from musician Tom Waits. Colin Farrell tries his best play the part of leading man, but his onscreen presence pales in comparison to everybody else’s, particularly Sam Rockwell.
Rockwell gives a great performance as Marty’s seemingly aimless friend, when in fact his character is more developed than Farrell’s. My favorite scene in the film involves Billy imagining how the final shootout should take place, complete with a desolate graveyard and explosives.
Walken and Harrelson deserve an honorable mention, though Harrelson’s role as an overly sensitive mob boss is something we’ve seen before. Regardless, he’s still hilarious, and his feelings for Bonnie are completely genuine, which makes him all the more endearing. By the end of the film you’re rooting for him so that he can finally be reunited with the love of his life.
There are a few surprising turn of events for Walken’s Hans, who serves as the most likeable character in the film. His loving relationship with wife coupled with his pacifist outlook on life makes him the most sane and likeable character in the film. He also provides the film’s only moment of spiritual clarity.
Believe it or not, there is a lot of emphasis on spirituality in the film. Marty and Hans have several discussions about Heaven and Hell. Similar to “In Bruges,” the theme of redemption is prevalent. At the beginning of the film, not only is Marty suffering from alcoholism but also the inability to write. By the end of the film, Marty has finished his screenplay and a newfound lease on life. Unfortunately, Marty is the only character that comes full circle.
I also want to note how violent and offensive this film can be at times. There are a lot of graphic gun shot wounds to the chest and head, but not nearly as many action sequences. If I had a dollar for every time one of the characters made a racial or anti-gay slur, I’d have enough money to buy a fancy pair of shoes.
Overall though, “Seven Psychopaths”was fun film with a lot of great performances. And while “In Bruges'” follow-up wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, I’m still looking forward to McDonagh’s next film.
– Jennifer Cleary
Full Disclosure: The film is produced by CBS Films and CW69 is owned by CBS Television Stations, both divisions of CBS Corporation.