Movie Review: “Seven Psychopaths”
By: Becky McKendry
After seeing “Seven Psychopaths,” take my advice: you might want to save your seven dollars for another movie.
The story follows screenwriter Marty, played by Colin Farrell (“Alexander,” “In Bruges”), as he tries to write a movie about psychopaths aptly titled, well, Seven Psychopaths. He is struggling for inspiration until he’s thrust into a world of crime with his best friend, Billy, played by Sam Rockwell (“Moon”)—an out-of-work actor and serial killer, who kidnaps dogs for ransom—and Billy’s cohort Hans, portrayed by Christopher Walken (“Pulp Fiction”). Billy kidnaps the prized Shih Tzu of a crazed gangster, played by Woody Harrelson (“Zombieland”) and chaos ensues.
The problem with Seven Psychopaths is not that it’s completely terrible, just that it wastes most of its potential. The trailer, base plot and casting choices lead you to believe you could be buying a ticket to a Guy Ritchie movie, but the clunky execution of the plot and subplots, as well as the not-very-clever dialogue, quickly prove you wrong. At one point, Colin Farrell’s character mentions that he only has the title for his movie and is now working backward from there, and you honestly have to wonder if writer/director Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”) did the same thing.
After a few shootings and a few funny jokes from Christopher Walken, the three protagonists end up on the lam in the desert, where they halfheartedly try to devise a plan to deal with the Shih Tzu and help Marty with his screenplay. Their discussions center on the ins and outs of dark crime films (the role of vapid female characters and “the perfect shootout”), and the film has an identity crisis right in front of your eyes. McDonagh, the man behind the clever crime comedy-drama seems to have a uncharacteristic problem defining his movie: it is either a mediocre dark crime comedy, or a mediocre self-satirizing dark comedy. By the end, we’re still not sure which one it is and we have to wonder if McDonagh himself even knows.
Aside from some killing scenes that require some suspension of disbelief, there are quite a few questions that Seven Psychopaths creates that will either distract you or seem like lazy screenwriting. Such as, why does Marty, a screenwriter, seem entirely uninterested in writing movies, whereas his best friend seems to be obsessed about it? How are we supposed to believe that Marty and Billy are best friends when they have no chemistry and seem genuinely uninterested in each other throughout a good chunk of the movie?
The movie isn’t a complete dud, though. Walken brings some depth to his character despite some shoddy dialogue and Harrelson’s occasional heartfelt thoughts about his dog, although underutilized in the film, are pretty funny.
But as I said, you may want to hold off on your plans for dinner and a movie for now. Seven Psychopaths is O.K… just in a wait-for-it-to-come-out-on-Netflix sort of way.