Film Review: Seven Psychopaths


Where oh where to start. It’s going be a strange one this review. On one hand, ‘Seven Psychopaths’ instantly became my favourite movie of 2012, and I want to scream with laughter about it from the heights. But at the same time, I don’t really want to talk about it here. What I want to do is go see it again, again, and again….


There’s been some great big bombastic entertaining movies around in 2012, virtually raising the CGI bar of the cinema experience. They look really great, but for all the enormity and joyous fun of say ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, it was actually the quiet human moments between Bale and Caine that were the most memorable for me. Films can be wonderful popcorn entertainment, but there can’t be anything much more satisfying than seeing the chemistry of a fantastic cast marinated in a rich luscious script and served to perfection. Especially if you’re not vegetarian. As ‘Seven Psychopaths’ is definitely not made of tofu. It’s 100% raw bloody red meat, and best served with a bucket of whiskey.

From the pen that brought us the fantastic ‘In Bruges’ (2008), director/writer Martin McDonagh has, in effect made his previous movie look like a sketch in comparison to the complexity of ‘Seven Psychopaths’. Put simply, it’s a movie about writers block. And we all know the best cure for writers block is to commit murder, right? Of course not, I’m just joking…sorta. But that’s where the simplicity ends and the gleeful chaotic road trip into insanity begins. And what a ride.

Packing some of the best performances of their lives for the journey, we have Hans (Christopher Walken) and Billy (Sam Rockwell) working in the ‘dog borrowing’ business, effectively dog-napping and returning the unharmed pouch for a reward. It’s a pretty straight forward gig until they chance upon and ‘borrow’ a cute Shih Tzu dog which happens to belong to gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson, also on top form). Charlie LOVES his dog. And to say he is unhinged by it’s disappearance, is the understatement of the year.

Thrown into the mix by association is Marty (Colin Farrell), a somewhat ‘typical’ alcoholic Irish writer (it’s in the Irish DNA apparently) who is currently having difficulty finding his next novel at the bottom of a bottle. Farrell (rightly) get’s a rough ride for some bad performances in other movies, but any time I’ve seen him deliberately turn his hand to comedy (as opposed to laughing at his Alexander The Great with a Dublin accent), he’s really excellent at it, and he is here again too. All the cast clearly had an amazing time while making this movie, and it shows.

seven psychopaths

Plus there’s a truly awesome supporting cast. With many familiar faces turning up to from series of note, and some beautiful cameos. I’ll let you discover and savour them for yourself. Everyone clearly relishing the script they’ve been given.

The script is where this movie shoots all the other movies of this year in the head, and then blows them out of the water, then sets them on fire, twice. It is at once both familiar, and peyote trip mindbogglingly complex. If you pay attention, you are richly rewarded with beautiful deadpan dark joke after joke. As Walken says at one point ‘It’s got layers’, yet another mischievous understatement. The movie is also both utterly brutal, hysterical, vicious, graphic and unrelenting, and manages to be beautifully humane and tear jerkingly tender, often at the same time.

It can do all this thanks to the writing magically holding it together. It is effectively an instant cult movie, with huge amounts of the script being quotable, and scenes reenacted. But again, I want you to hear them for the first time while watching it. You can spend millions on the most fantastic images ever conceived on a 3D mapping programme, or you can sit round a camp fire with friends and share stories. Seven Psychopaths is a camp fire of a movie, and I’ll choose it every time.

Film of the Year 2012

Seven Psychopaths is out in the UK now and released by Momentum Pictures.