Seven Psychopaths (2012)
Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Željko Ivanek
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.
I’d been meaning to watch this movie for a while as I really liked Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. Unfortunately, I ended up being a little disappointed as Seven Psychopaths is definitely not as good as In Bruges. There are several fantastic moments, though, and some great performances from the impressive cast. In fact, I’d say there are a few moments of pure brilliance & I’ll be sure to discuss the movie’s positives as well as the negatives. But, overall, I thought the main plot was a bit of a mess and far too convoluted.
In this movie, Colin Farrell’s character is a writer working on a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths. He hasn’t gotten very far with the script (I think he’d only managed to think up one out of the seven psychopaths if I remember correctly) so his friend (a dognapper played by Sam Rockwell) tries to help him out with the other six. Meanwhile, Rockwell (who kidnaps dogs for “boss” Christopher Walken) has managed to anger a real-life psychopath (Woody Harrelson) after kidnapping his beloved dog.
What’s unfortunate is that this overall dognapping story is the main part of the plot yet it’s the weakest thing about the movie. The main story is messy & feels too forced. Okay – part of this may somewhat be down to my dislike of Woody Harrelson. Aside from his “dumb guy” character in Cheers, I’ve never liked him in anything else. He just seemed very weak next to the likes of Walken and even Rockwell (who was fantastic in this). Colin Farrell was just his usual Colin Farrell self (I’m not a big fan of his either but he’s fine in this although his role could have been played by anyone).
The interesting thing about this movie, which I didn’t know beforehand, is that there are several other stories that get told throughout the film as ideas for further psychopathic characters are discussed. We witness these stories (such as the one with Tom Waits in the above photo) and, DAMN, these stories are good! I’d watch full movies of a few of these stories as they’re all far more interesting than the overall plot involving the dognapping & Woody Harrelson’s character. It reminded me a lot of Grindhouse & how the fake trailers looked so good that they ended up making movies of some of them (I didn’t watch Machete so I don’t know if that was any good but I really enjoyed Hobo With A Shotgun).
As well as these “stories within a story”, which I liked a hell of a lot, I really loved Christopher Walken & Sam Rockwell. I like Christopher Walken but he can be a little strange sometimes. I complained about him “phoning it in” in my review of Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. He plays the same sort of character far too often but, although he’s playing that sort of character once again here, he gives such a perfect performance. His final scene is especially awesome as were the scenes with his character’s wife (played by a woman named Linda Bright Clay, who appears to have been in very little else. Why?! She’s fantastic in this! Another one of this movie’s highlights). Walken’s & Clay’s characters were both fantastic, as was their story. Well done to McDonagh on writing their parts.
Sam Rockwell was possibly the main highlight for me, though. At least, as far as the acting was concerned – my favorite thing was definitely the “stories within a story”. I have a post about Rockwell scheduled for tomorrow & I say the same thing that I’ll say now: I don’t think he’s really lucked out quite yet in getting that one “perfect role”. When he does, I think he’ll finally get the attention he deserves. This is definitely a defining role for him, however, and probably my second favorite performance of his. I’m starting to kind of finally see the reason he seems to have some pretty loyal fans. If you’re a fan of his but haven’t seen this movie for some reason, I highly recommend that you check it out.
Seven Psychopaths is an odd one. It’s so good at times and just plain confusing at other times. I’m afraid that it tries a little too hard to be cool. I think it wants to be like something made by Tarantino but, although the clever dialogue is there and there are some very rich characters, the story is even more convoluted than that in Pulp Fiction. I’m struggling with rating this one as I think it deserves a higher score than I’ll probably give it but I can’t ignore the fact that the main plot really didn’t hold my interest at all. But I’m in no way trying to talk people out of watching this one as I think parts of it are brilliant and the writing is far better than we get from most movies. I’d actually recommend this one as I think a lot of people reading this would like this movie quite a lot. If you like In Bruges or Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead or anything from Tarantino, you’ll definitely like this one as well. I guess I’d rather have a few moments of brilliance than a movie that’s mediocre the whole way through.
My Rating: 7/10
I’m with you on this. It just kind of spirals out of control without any purpose.
I’m glad so many people agree with me on this! 🙂 I thought everyone loved this movie. It was fun but just so “messy”…
I liked In Bruges loads too, but was warned off this one. You really don’t like Woody Harrelson?
Oh, I’d recommend this as long as you watch it knowing that it’s not as good as In Bruges & that the main plot is a bit of a mess. But it’s a fun watch with some great performances. Except for Harrelson’s… No, I don’t like him. I think True Detective really didn’t help (hated that but especially his character). 😉
But he’s amazing in True Detective! On a different note, is there a funnier line in Bruges than this https://alexraphael.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/lines-of-the-day-45/
I adore this film. Walken is just the best. Shockingly good.
Agreed! Walken was perfect in this. 🙂 I like him in the majority of films he’s been in but he definitely gets typecast.
Have you seen A Late Quartet? I searched your site and didn’t see it, so I am not sure if you have. I hate to link out to my site, but I did a review of it (http://tiny.cc/wn6q5x). The film is truly wonderful and Walken is nothing like, er, well, Walken. I hope you find the time to give it look (the film I mean).
I’m really glad that this movie confused someone other than me, I was wondering if I just wasn’t smart enough to understand the plot! Still a good watch though 🙂
Hehe. No, it’s not just you. Unless it’s just us?? 😉 No, the plot was a total mess. But, yeah, a fun watch anyway thanks to the performances & individual stories. 🙂
Neat review, I’m with you on this. Not as good as In Bruges but still a heck of an entertaining flick. With regards to Sam Rockwell, his perfect role is in ‘Moon’ if you haven’t seen it then you are missing out, incredible.
Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, I LOVED Moon but I’m a huge sci-fi fan. With that, I loved it more for the movie than the role but know I really should watch it again – I wasn’t really a Rockwell fan yet at that point.
Interesting read. I loved this when I first saw it but that was a while ago. This has me wanting to watch it with a more mature pair of eyes 🙂
Thanks! 🙂 Oh, I did really enjoy it despite the messy plot…
Yeah I saw this a while ago, before I started writing about movies, so I wouldn’t have been watching it with the eyes I have now. Time for a revisit I think
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I loved In Bruges so, so much but thought this was just a crushing disappointment. Some people seem to really love it, but I just can’t see where they’re coming from! There are great bits (mainly the ones you mentioned), but that’s all I thought they were — bits — in a sea of thumbtwiddling tedium.
Thumbtwiddling tedium! I like that! 🙂 I’m so glad some people seem to agree that the plot was a mess – I was afraid to say that as I’d heard only good things about this movie. I had fun with it overall but, man, I got so bored with the dognapping storyline… So convoluted.
Great review as always 🙂 I enjoy Sam Rockwell – I really liked The Way Way back. Such a cool film!
Thanks, Natasha! Yeah, he was amazing in The Way Way Back. Loved his character so much! 🙂
Absolutely in agreement. I liked this, but didn’t love it.
As for Harrelson… come on! Woody is awesome!
Yeah – I had pretty high expectations so it sucked that this was disappointing overall. And I still don’t like Woody! 😉
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