A murderers row of comedic talent stars in this dark comedy about dognapping, alcoholism, serial killers, revenge, screenplays and friendship.
It’s as chaotic and unpredictable as counting on star Christopher Walken to put the accent on the correct sylLAble, but I had an absolute blast with it. It’s a mortal lock to become a cult movie.
Screenwriter Marty Faranan (Collin Farrell) has writer’s block. He has a great title for a movie, “Seven Psychopaths”, but not much else. Of the seven psychopath characters he envisions eventually having, he currently has a grand total of one. His friend, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) wants to help. A dognapper by trade, Billy wants to co-write the screenplay. He also wants to help Marty stop drinking, and get him to ditch his girlfriend.
Unfortunately for them both, and for Billy’s partner in crime, Hans (Christopher Walken) Billy dognaps the wrong dog. The dog he takes is a shih tzu belonging to a possessive local gangster, Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson). Charlie immediately embarks on a mission to get his dog back and to kill whoever took him.
So Marty, Billy and Hans try to elude Charlie – a real killer – while trying to talk out a screenplay about killers.
It’s as crazy as it sounds.
“Seven Psychopaths” frequently switches back and forth between the story that it’s telling and the story that it’s characters are telling. As Marty, Billy, and eventually, Hans discuss the screenplay, the movie illustrates the spitballed scenarios while the characters narrate their pitches. The suggestions range from solid to half-baked and back again. Some are pure fiction, others are based on actual experiences, but all of them are hysterical. Characters get into huge, ridiculous shootouts, or conduct remorseless vendettas, or patiently wait revenge for decades. It’s a humorous, stylistic, hyper-realism that gives the movie a style of its own, yet at the same time makes a meta commentary on Hollywood offerings.
The remainder of “Psychopaths”‘ style comes from its colorful characters… both “fictional” within the screenplay, and the characters themselves, who are certainly an assorted bunch of oddballs. Each are crazed to varying degrees in their own right. Watching them cross paths and interact is a riot. Especially given the talents of the cast. Woody Harrelson isn’t involved as much as I’d have liked, and Olga Kurylenko basically just cameos, but Tom Waits certainly makes a memorable impression with limited screen time. The stars of the film are Walken, Farrell and Rockwell. Walken is… on his A Game. He brings his trademarked delivery to a great character (a pacifist with a past) and adds a winner to his filmography. Farrell is also solid as the beset-upon writer trying to figure things out at the bottom of the bottle. But the real highlight of the movie is the performance of Sam Rockwell. To call him crazy is a severe understatement. He rambles, he’s overly enthused, he gets moralistic at inopportune times, he’s a total mess. And Rockwell plays him as such. He’s a total spaz… it was such a treat to watch. This is a role that definitely add fuel to the “Why doesn’t Sam Rockwell get bigger roles” fire.
Crazy, occasionally incoherent, but always, always funny and savagely entertaining, “Seven Psychopaths” is absolutely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of dark humor.