Seven Psychopaths is violently entertaining


A screenwriter and his two friends hide in California a desert after kidnapping the shih tzu of a psychopathic crime boss. The latest film from writer-director Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths, is violently dark and crazy good fun.

Victor Dos Santos, Assistant A&E Editor

Seven Psychopaths starts with a fade in on the Hollywood Sign as Hank Williams’ “Angel of Death” plays in the background.  In a chaotic film about life, death, and one very special shih tzu, this is as fitting an opening as you can get.

The film follows Martin(Collin Farrell), a screenwriter who is having trouble writing his latest screenplay, Seven Psychopaths.  Yes, this is one of those movies about movies where everyone is extremely aware of the situations they’re in.

Martin’s screenplay becomes the least of his worries when his friends Billy and Hans, played by a gleefully insane Sam Rockwell and a genuine Christopher Walken, kidnap the Shih Tzu of a psychopathic crime boss (Woody Harrelson).

He then pursues the three friends with a murderous vengeance to get his beloved pooch back.  The  over-the-top game of cat and mouse that ensues is extremely violent and consistently entertaining.

Experienced viewers will immediately get the impression that Martin is meant to be a reflection of the film’s writer-director Martin McDonagh.  Consequently, Martin is at times more of a background character, playing the role of the director of a film, existing only as a reflection of an audience there to observe the psychopaths. Martin is still a well developed character. He may not be as entertaining as the psychopaths that surround him, but this helps to balance the often overwhelming presence of the psychopaths.

The film’s psycho characters are all surprisingly well-developed, considering that there are seven of them, with interesting motives and psychopathic tendencies that allow for plenty of violent outbursts.

It is clear that the film’s talented writer-director Martin McDonagh had the intention of writing a film that is deeper than a ridiculous romp about seven psychopaths.  Martin’s character even says he doesn’t want his film to be “just about a bunch of psychopaths killing each other.”

The film does its best to say something about all of these different psychopaths and that you can still write a story that is both extremely entertaining and features emotionally involving characters.

The performances  are all around fantastic, but Sam Rockwell’s certainly stands above the rest.  Rockwell goes all out in what might just be his best role yet, and his character really shines as the story hits its critical moments. Christopher Walken does a great job as well and has some terrific cameraderie with Rockwell and Farrell.  Also great in the film are  co-stars Woody Harrelson, as the incredibly over-the-top, in a good way, psycho crime boss and Tom Waits as a retired “serial killer killer” .

The only one who doesn’t seem to be doing all that much is Farrell, but that’s because he’s, as already mentioned, really just there to reflect the audience and observe.  Yet, even though we know what he is supposed to represent, his performance ocassionally comes across as unimportant.

While the film’s focus on the murderous psychopaths may feel overwhelming, the top-notch writing ensures that the action is meant to be engaging and more than  just “fun to watch.”

The film’s clarity of vision feels ocassionally blurred as a result of the  at times excessive amount of self referential remarks and various characters. However, McDonagh frequently winks at the audience by throwing in an incredible scene or monologue as a way of telling them that he knows what he’s doing.

Seven Psychopaths is a gleefully violent and humorous commentary on Hollywood movie making. It might be a little much to take in at first, with McDonagh nearly breaking the fourth wall with the film’s meta-humor, but viewers should see Seven Psychopaths through to the end to truly understand its charm.

with photo.