Having just recently taken the time to check out IN BRUGES and really liking it I was pretty excited to take in Martin McDonagh’s newest film SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. From the get go the dark humor and violence kicks into high gear and I was giddy about how awesome the rest of the film was going to be. For the next 45 minutes or so I felt my excitement for the film grow and then it started to coast a bit until it finally started a slow but steady decline before. McDonagh’s mostly hilarious jab at the movie industry comes out firing, but starts shooting blanks a little over halfway through.
Colin Farrell stars as Marty, a screenwriter working on a script about Seven Psychopaths and is not quite sure how to finish it. Marty’s friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) has a thing for kidnapping dogs and collecting the reward money with along with Hans (Christopher Walken). One day Billy and Hans kidnap a Shih Tzu that belongs to the crazy and irrational gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson) and Marty gets tossed into the midst of the cat and mouse game as Charlie tries to hunt down his dog.
The premise seems ripe for some really goofy comedy and for the most part it delivers on the laughs due in large part to the ridiculousness of a dog napping plot. During the first half of the film the script is full of snappy dialogue between characters and a great deal of really funny moments. Somewhere down the road the film just veers off its path and loses everything that was making it special. The finale tries hard to introduce the humor present in the first half, but never regains its footing.
The standout performance belongs mostly to Walken, although Harrelson has a handful of pretty great moments while Rockwell and Farrell trade back and forth with mostly boring character beats and moments that border on crossing into something interesting. Rockwell stands out more than Farrell, but even his character just is kind of there during the finale and offers nothing all that interesting to pull anyone back in after the film begins to drag. Farrell’s character is who I blame for making the film lose any or all of its momentum. Whenever Marty starts musing about his script and his vision of it the result is something akin to a cinematic lullaby that nearly talked me to sleep a few times.
I’m not sure where the fingers should be pointed in terms of the finale half of the film. It loses a good portion of its energy leading to the final scenes, but the first half is so much fun that it becomes frustrating just how far it veers from the spirit it started out with. Despite a few jokes in the finale the writing doesn’t even seem to be presented with the same vision of the rest of the film which makes for a very conflicting experience.
On one hand I wanted to like the movie so much more than I did based entirely on my first impression- but on the other you can only hold on to first impressions so long before you start to come to terms with the fact that the first impression may be the peak of the enjoyment you’re going to get. McDonagh’s SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS had so much potential to be something spectacular with an amazing cast and some great writing, but somewhere down the line McDonagh slows things down only to try to ramp them up again right before the finish line and by then it was just a little too late. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS may be a bit disappointing in the end, but is so much fun out of the gate that it at least deserves a test drive.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)