The ensemble crime comedy Seven Psychopaths is one of the biggest surprises of the cinematic year. Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and even the always awesome Tom Waits elevate their game to heights never thought possible.
Writer-director Martin McDonagh has not only crafted a wickedly supreme caper film with a pitch perfect cast, but also one of the biggest laugh-per-minute experiences this year. Where his In Bruges was more melancholy and manic with its comedy and drama, Seven Psychopaths is a balls-to-the-wall full emotional encompassing ride.
At the center of the movie is Bonny. The adorable Shih Tzu is the light of the life of one of our Seven Psychopaths, Harrelson's Charlie. Harrelson has played psychotic before, most notably in Natural Born Killers, but none fit him like a glove as his role as the most psychotic of the Seven Psychopaths. The gun-toting LA gangster rules his landscape with the credo of shoot first and ask questions second. Yet when it comes to tracking down the "scumbags" that kidnapped Bonny, he becomes completely emotionally unraveled.
Rockwell and Walken, who actually started their sizzling chemistry on the Broadway stage acting opposite one another in a play written by McDonagh, are truly the highlight of the film. They are the duo who dog-nap across Los Angeles. Things were going swimmingly for the pair as they simply waited for a reward sign to go up, return the dog saying they “found” it and boom… money collected.
Through Walken and Rockwell, the audience experiences multiple sides of a cinema crime story, seen through McDonagh's writing. But it is the actors who bring this dynamic duo to life. First, Walken does his best work -- and that is saying something. As Hans, he is both someone who is capable of violence, yet also possesses incredible insight and heart. When Farrell’s screenwriter has hit a bump in the road, it is Hans who provides the deep-seated wisdom to send him over the writer’s block hump.
Walken plays the two sides of Hans -- the adoring husband and the man with a criminal and secretive past -- with equal panache and vigor. The way Walken says much with few words is a study in searing the silver screen and then there is the way he utters words themselves... it is priceless. And his partner in crime is up for the task.
Rockwell has always been one of Movie Fanatic’s favorite performers. Can you imagine The Green Mile, or even Charlie’s Angels, without him? Even evident in the Seven Psychopaths red band trailer is the fact that like Walken, the film allows the actor to give a performance with multiple sides. His BFF to Farrell is one of the most adoring relationships in the movie. Yet, there is a part of the the actor's imagining of the character of Billy that gives viewers pause and then credence that something darker and explosive lurks below.
Seven Psychopaths ups the humor-violence quotient set by films such as Pulp Fiction. It also recalls Coen brothers’ films with their flair for pairing brutal scenes with black comedy. Honestly, in the end, the McDonagh film is all its own in a category of pure brilliance.