Seven Psychopaths (2012) Review

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.

My Opinion:

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. 

Summary:

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

Oblivion (2013) Review

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Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Starring:
Tom Cruise
Olga Kurylenko
Andrea Riseborough
Morgan Freeman
Melissa Leo
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Plot:
I’m being lazy & copying what’s below from Wikipedia. You can click on the link if you want to see more of the plot description but it tells you the plot of the entire movie. I think you’re better off going to this movie knowing only the following basic information – to discuss the plot further gives too much away:

2077: Following an invasion by alien Scavengers (Scavs) sixty years earlier which destroyed the Moon and nearly destroyed the Earth, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is Tech 49, one of the last few humans stationed on earth. He lives thousands of feet in a work tower above the Earth where he and his communications officer and lover Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are part of an operation to extract the planet’s remaining resources, especially water. Jack and Victoria supposedly have no memory of the past, having undergone a mandatory “memory wipe” five years prior. They now maintain contact with civilization via a video link with their commander, Sally (Melissa Leo), and are due to join the rest of humanity on Titan in two weeks. Jack suffers from recurring dreams and flashbacks of New York before the invasion and an unknown woman. Assisting Jack in his work are weaponised ‘drones’, airborne machines that scour the landscape to destroy the remaining alien resistance.

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My opinion:

I saw this almost a week ago & have been putting off reviewing it as I didn’t know how to go about it & also still haven’t fully decided what I thought of it. First of all – Tom Cruise. I don’t tend to watch Tom Cruise movies much these days. I haven’t been a fan since, I suppose, the days of Top Gun. To me he’s become one of those actors that I just always see as himself – I don’t see him as the characters he’s playing in movies. Tom Hanks has become this way for me too although I still like him fine. And Nicolas Cage! As I said in my review for The Croods, Nicolas Cage can be too Nicolas Cage-y. Likewise, Tom Cruise is far too Tom Cruise-y in Oblivion. 😉

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But this is a sci-fi movie. I love sci-fi – it’s possibly my favorite movie genre (even though the concepts are more than my little brain can cope with half the time). So I wanted to see it despite Tom Cruise’s Tom Cruise-y-ness. The movie starts out good and I was thoroughly enjoying the first half. The look of the film is great. The drones and the work station where Cruise and his assistant live are very sleek and cool and… science fiction-y looking! (Yes, I’m great at descriptive words – I just add a “y” to the ends of things. Should really work on my writing skills someday!). I totally want to swim naked in the pool in their work station and wear the dresses & high heels Cruise’s assistant wears for work every day (although I did wonder why she didn’t just stay in her pajamas every day – surely that’s one of the benefits of working from home!). Um, am I talking about dresses & high heels? Sorry – I don’t go girly-girl TOO often! Back to the movie…

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Like I said, the first half is good and I was thoroughly enjoying it. Unfortunately, the second half does NOT live up to the first half. It turns into a combination of every classic sci-fi movie you’ve ever seen. Which SHOULD work. But it doesn’t. I just didn’t want to see something I’ve already seen in other, more superior sci-fi movies. I found the ending disappointing & predictable. Now, I’m not saying the movie is BAD. If I was new to the genre & hadn’t seen so many classic 70’s sci-fi films, I’d think Oblivion was very good. So it might be good if it manages to get a new generation into sci-fi but I can’t see that happening as this movie doesn’t seem aimed at a slightly younger crowd, especially with its choice of stars. And for those who love Morgan Freeman, like I do, you may be disappointed in how little he’s actually in the movie. He was wasted in this.

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AND… I’m sorry but is New York City the ONLY city that exists in our future?! (Even in a “totally destroyed” way except for a few pieces of identifying landmarks). I have nothing against the city but why is it used so often in these types of movies? There are lots of other big cities around the world & in America, right? And Tom Cruise wearing a baseball cap & reliving some Super Bowl game he read about or whatever isn’t going to really appeal to a worldwide audience or keep the movie feeling very sci-fi & timeless. (I’m not being anti-American as I’m American – I’m just being anti-sports. I hate sports! Especially football. So I’m sure it’s just me who was annoyed by this bit). And… Led Zeppelin? Again? Didn’t Argo do that already (and more effectively)?

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Um. It’s not a bad movie, really. I don’t think. But my thing against Tom Cruise’s Tom Cruise-y-ness & slight snobbishness about already seeing and loving lots of classic sci-fi films makes me think I’m possibly judging Oblivion a little unfairly. I was entertained, especially in the first half, and it looked fantastic. And it was totally science fiction-y! 😉 I’ve gone back & forth on the rating I’d give it – was going to go with a 6 but that’s what I gave Trance and it’s definitely a better movie than that is. And at least it’s reminded me that I really need to watch some of the sci-fi classics that I’ve been meaning to watch for years.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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