Starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken. Rated 18A.
A Tarantinoesque mix of violence and genre-baiting satire fuels the peppy Seven Psychopaths, and what you get out of it may depend on your appetite for wisecracks overlapping with (and sometimes even coming from) exploding heads. The best thing going for writer-director Martin McDonagh, a theatre veteran probably best known for his similarly brutal comedy In Bruges, is that most of his mots are pretty darn bon. Plus, this is one hell of a cast.
Aside from the familiar faces that show up briefly, there is a great anchoring duo. Colin Farrell’s Marty, a perpetually pickled screenwriter, is stereotypically Irish, as often pointed out by his best bud, Sam Rockwell’s bitingly cynical Billy. The latter is a grand one for giving advice—ironic, considering his current employment is stealing beloved pets so that his partner, Christopher’s Walken’s dapper Hans, can claim whatever rewards are offered.
Billy does know a lot about the criminally insane, though, which comes in handy when Marty launches a script about said septet. This venture is interrupted by a flood of real psychos after the grifters foolishly nab an insipid Shih Tzu belonging to Woody Harrelson’s amusingly ruthless mobster.
So far, so funny, but as one character points out, helpfully: “Psychopaths can get tiresome after a while,” and the film’s self-referential strategy isn’t quite as prophylactic as it wants to be. I mean, when someone tells Marty that his script doesn’t contain one credible female character, shouldn’t that be a call for McDonagh himself to pump up the estrogen? Instead, we get Abby Cornish in a wet shirt. I’m not complaining, exactly; it’s just that self-fulfilling prophecies aren’t endlessly amazing, and the movie’s essential misanthropy and gratuitous homophobia add to a sense of exhaustion that takes over even before the inevitable final shootout. Oh, by the way, there are really only six psychopaths, but I won’t tell you what that means.
Watch the trailer for Seven Psychopaths.